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2012: The Year in Sports, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

January 01, 2013 By: Category: Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL | NCAA Football, NHL, Sports

Before I start, I hope that everyone at Camelclutchblog.com, especially my editor Eric Gargiulo, and their families had a great holiday. I hope that my readers also had a great holiday as well. I did as well as my beagle Ace Frehley. I thought I would get a blog done for you before we all celebrate the coming of the new year.

As 2012 comes to a close, it is time for me to write a blog about the high points, and the low points of the year in sports. As sports fans, we had quite a very interesting year. We have had great moments, shocking moments, sad moments, and great comebacks. Hopefully, in 2013, there will be many more.

As I said, a lot has happened in 2012, so it will be hard to sum it up, but I will do my best. I will be putting the ones that I thought were the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of 2012. I apologize in advance if I missed anyone’s personal favorite.

Here we go. The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly in Sports for 2012:

The GOOD:

Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera wins Major League Baseball’s Triple Crown.

This was awesome. All through the 2012 MLB season, commentators were keeping an eye on Cabrera to see if he would win the elusive Triple Crown (batting average, home runs, and RBI). He sure did, and became the first to do so since Carl Yastrzemski in1967.

SF Giants sweep the Detroit Tigers to win the 2012 World Series.

The Giants on their way to the final round, made things difficult for themselves, but once they faced the Tigers, they swept them away.

Super Bowl 46 was won by the NY Giants over the New England Patriots.

The Giants nearly showed why they were a 9-7 team by using two time outs late in the second half. However, thanks to an unlucky miscommunication between Tom Brady and Wes Welker, and a lucky catch by Mario Manningham (who normally would have dropped that ball), the Giants wound up with their fourth Lombardi.

The Los Angeles Kings win their first Stanley Cup over the New Jersey Devils.

In six games, in a thrilling series, the Los Angeles Kings defeated the favored New Jersey Devils. This was the Kings franchise’s first Stanley Cup. Yes, my Devils got beat, and from the way they played, they deserved to get beat. However, it is nice to see a team who never won the coveted Cup finally win.

The amazing comebacks of both Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson.

Who would have thought that sports fans would see two of the greatest players at their respective positions suffer career threatening injuries in 2011, and return to have MVP-like seasons? This is amazing. One does not even have to be a fan of either to just admire these men, and their will to come back.

I remember seeing Peyton on the sidelines. I was wondering if he was going to return like before. I also remember seeing Peterson crumbling to the ground. I was so sad. Well, now, in 2012, these two are in the running for MVP. Pun intended.

2012 Haskell Winner Paynter’s Recovery and KISS bassist Gene Simmons getting involved with promotion at Santa Anita Racetrack.

Of course, I have blogged a few times about my beloved Paynter’s recovery from colitis, and laminitis, and his return to trainer Bob Baffert’s barn on Decemeber 29, 2012.

Santa Anita Racetrack has now associated itself with KISS bassist, and entrepreneur, Gene Simmons to help with promotion. He was at Santa Anita’s opening day, and presented the trophy to the winning connections of Jimmy Creed, who won the Malibu Stakes.

The BAD:

The Lance Armstrong Debacle.

Wow. What a fall from grace. I mean, to some, he will always be a hero due to his beating cancer, and to others, he will be a cheater. This is just sad because he was a hero to so many who had been cancer victims.

Terrell Owens being released from the Seahawks.

This is just sad. If you believe in the “karma” theory, I guess karma turned into the female dog for Owens. I mean, everyone knows his story by now. He got cut back in August by just about the only team that would give him a chance. Now, he is out of the NFL. I thought he was done anyway, but maybe he should not have burned so many bridges, perhaps?

I’ll Have Another’s Triple Crown Bid ends before he even got put in the gate.

I’ll Have Another, the winner of the 2012 Kentucky Derby, and Preakness was scratched the day before he was to run in the Belmont Stakes to attempt to be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. He evidently suffered some sort of tendon injury, and was retired. He eventually was sold, and now lives in Japan.

I’ll Have Another’s Triple Crown attempt also highlighted his trainer, Doug O’Neill who had a drug violation that had to be adjudicated. The Triple Crown bid also put a spotlight on drug use in the sport.

NY Governor Mario Cuomo, Jr., in his infinite wisdom, takes over NYRA, and has the Belmont Stakes horses in separate barns.

This was awful. After the news about O’Neil’s drug issue broke, NY Governor Mario Cuomo, Jr., after previously taking over NYRA, orders the horses for the Belmont Stakes , starting Wednesday before the race, to go into separate barns. Cuomo doesn’t quite get horses and racing. Horses are creatures of habit. They like routine, and don’t like it when their routine is disturbed. I don’t think it affected any of the horses who ran, but I thought it was a dumb idea.

The UGLY.

The New York Jets.

Oh Lord. Even when I lived in New Jersey, I did not remember the Jets being this horrid. I am no fan of theirs, and never have been, and never will, but I don’t think Rich Kotite had them this bad. Good Grief. The team is so disorganized. I know they lost Santonio Holmes, and Darrelle Revis to IR. However, that is no excuse.

The Jets have become the Keystone Cops of the NFL. Period. They trade for Tim Tebow, but to soothe the ego of their starter, Mark Sanchez, they give Sanchez more money. Now, that Sanchez has either regressed or the Jets discovered that Sanchez is not all that, the Jets are in cap room hell if they try to trade him. They only wanted Tebow to win the back pages against the newly crowned Super Bowl Champions, New York Giants. Why ESPN shoved this team down our throats, I don’t know.

This play sums up the 2012-13 Season of the New York Jets:

http://youtu.be/vEI03oOE6is

The Cottage Industry that is Tim Tebow.

As a lifelong sports fan, I have never seen a third string quarterback get so much attention in my entire life. He has been pushed as the face of goodness. He has been pushed as the greatest college player ever. He gets pushed to soothe the religious conservatives. ESPN shoves him down our throats via First Take. Skip Bayless, who was once a good author, has lowered his standards to be Tebow’s flagbearer.

On the other side, you have Merrill Hodge, and Mark Schlereth, who argue that the kid can’t play the position. Hodge is very adamant about it. There are other journalists that debate whether Tebow is going to make it as a QB as well, and now with this Wildcat-gate, the debating has escalated.

I honestly do not see what the big deal is over this guy.

Tragedies involving players of the Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Dallas Cowboy lineman Josh Brent was driving intoxicated on December 8, 2012, when he got into an accident, killing his best friend and teammate, Jerry Brown. Brent was charged with one count of intoxication manslaughter.

So sad, but what is uplifting is that Brown’s mother forgave Brent, and Brent sat with Brown’s family at the funeral.

Kansas City Chief Linebacker Javon Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend
Kasandra Perkins before going to Arrowhead Stadium, and killing himself in front of Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, and Head Coach Romeo Crennel on December 1, 2012. The couple’s three month old daughter was left behind.

This made me sad, and then angry. If you are in an argument with someone, just walk away. Why on earth do you have to get so mad that you have to kill the other person? A three month old girl will never know her parents, because an argument escalated to the point where one of the participants didn’t have the sense to walk away and cool off. That person just had to kill the other one, and then took the coward’s way out, instead of facing the consequences of what he did.

ESPN First Take’s Rob Parker’s Comments about Redskins QB Robert Griffin III.

As most people are aware, ESPN suspended Rob Parker 30 days for his comments about Robert Griffin III on ESPN First Take. I also hope that action will be taken against the producers who let the controversial comments be re-aired on the replay, and on the “Best of First Take” later that afternoon. I don’t think Parker’s punishment was strong enough, but that’s my opinion.

For those who are not familiar with Parker’s comments, Parker (who is African American) was discussing a USA Today interview done with RGIII where RGIII said he wanted to be known as a QB, not a “black QB.” Well, Parker questioned whether RGIII was a “brother or a cornball brother.” Parker then questioned whether RGIII was a “brother” because he had a white fiancee, and was allegedly a Republican.

I am mixed race (white mother married to a father who is African American and Cherokee). I found Parker’s comments idiotic, and just wrong. I had thought we had gotten past all this. There was a time in the USA where interracial marriage was ILLEGAL. I mean, why is Parker hung up on that?

Parker also made fun of golf legend Tiger Woods for wanting to be seen as a person, and not a “black golfer.” The pigeon-holing is very shortsighted. I mean, if RGIII is a Republican, that means he is not black? Seriously, Mr. Parker?

I just think we should see people as people. I watch Griffin play, and I see a QB. I watch Tom Brady play, and I see a QB. I don’t say “RGIII is a great black QB.” I also don’t say, “Brady is a great white QB.” They are just QBs.

Well, that was my Good, Bad, and the Ugly in sports for 2012. I hope everyone enjoyed it and I hope everyone has a great New Year.

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

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NFL Week 17 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

December 31, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 17 in the National Football League!

– Tampa Bay closes out the 2012 regular season with a nice win against a not-so-competitive Atlanta Falcons team in Week 17. I’ve said it all season long and it’s only fitting that I say it again, Tampa is a good team and one that people should look out for in 2013. Really like what they accomplished this season, would’ve loved to seen them compete for a playoff spot in the final weeks.

- Not the way Atlanta wanted to end the regular season I’m sure but now they can look towards the playoffs and hope that the defensive injuries they suffered on Sunday aren’t that bad. Not sure what to think of this Falcons team heading into the playoffs but I’ll tell you this much, they don’t look like a #1 seed team.

– Buffalo has the right pieces as we saw in their win against the Jets in Week 17 but they need to fix some of their weaknesses (quarterback & head coach) before they can be competitive in the AFC East next season. Tough year for a team many people liked as a “sneaky pick” in the AFC.

– Perfect way to end the Jets regular season and if you thought their regular season was a circus act, wait till the offseason takes place. I believe it was Terrell Owens who once said: “get your popcorn ready.” I know I will.

– Sure Baltimore “mailed it in” during the Week 17 game but I really liked what I saw from the Bengals. Cincinnati kept their momentum going for the playoffs and I hope it helps them in postseason play this season. Amazing that a 6th seed could be the favorite over the 3rd seed in the playoffs but it may be possible for the Bengals.

– While I understand you want to rest your starters and save them for the playoffs, not sure if I agree with treating it like a preseason game in Week 17 especially for the Ravens. Baltimore has been so inconsistent lately that they needed to keep that good momentum going from their big win against the Giants in Week 16 and they didn’t, could hurt them versus Indianapolis next week.

– All season long I said the Bears were the best “smoke and mirrors” team in the NFL. Their record showed they were an “elite” team but when they played against “elite” teams they would be outclassed. Sure they got 10 wins and sure they won games when it counted at the end but they won’t be seeing any games past Week 17. I really wonder how this team will look in 2013.

– The Detroit Lions should’ve never been a 4 win team this season and a top 5 draft pick franchise going into the 2013 NFL Draft. Detroit is a better caliber team then they possessed all season long and if Jim Schwartz can’t get it done with this talent then it’s time to let him go. It will be a very interesting offseason for this franchise heading into 2013.

– Tennessee beat Jacksonville in Week 17 and there defense scored 4 times on Sunday. Good way to end this horrible season for the Titans and I wonder what there direction will be heading into 2013. Will CJ2K be back? I think he should.

– Congrats Jacksonville, prepare yourselves for “TebowMania!”

– The best story of the 2012 NFL season was Chuck Pagano beating cancer and the Indianapolis Colts making it into the playoffs. This team clearly got motivated by their cancer battling head coach and rallied behind his spirit to play another game past Week 17. Indianapolis can be that “very dangerous Football team” starting next week.

– This is not the way you should be entering the playoffs. Houston entered Week 17 with the #1 seed and walked out as the #3 seed. Instead of having home-field advantage and having a week off, they now will be stumbling against the Bengals in the Wild Card round (again). I wonder if this team will ever be able to put it together when it matters the most.

– Extremely strong way for the Panthers to finish their season as they won 5 of their last 6 games, including 4 straight games and finished the season 7-9. It appeared that Cam Newton was a “late bloomer” this season as it took him some time to get back to the way he played his rookie season. Carolina is once again a team to look out for in 2013.

– Overall this is a very disappointing season for the New Orleans Saints. They entered the year with a ton of controversy due in-part to “bountygate,” but were still considered by many as a NFC “elite” team. Instead New Orleans struggled all season long, finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs. It was a very tough season for the NOLA.

– The most disappointing team in the 2012 NFL season may be the defending Super Bowl Champion, New York Football Giants. New York gets huge victories over San Francisco & Green Bay, was at one point 6-2 on the season and then finished the year 3-5 to miss the playoffs. The Giants looked like an “elite” team at multiple points in the season even to the extent that they were considered the best team in the NFL and now they will be watching the playoffs from home. They should be very thankful they share the same city with the New York Jets!

– What is there to say about the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles season that hasn’t already been said before? Tough year and it’s time to move on from this current era. How this franchise handles this offseason could be very telling for seasons to come in Philadelphia. Since the “dream team” moniker was self-given to them, the Eagles have gone 12-20 in both seasons, pretty sure that’s a nightmare Vince Young.

– Steelers get the win in Week 17 and mercifully end their 2012 regular season. This isn’t what Pittsburgh was hoping for and now there will be many offseason questions to deal with. Similar to their in-state rival Philadelphia Eagles, there will be a lot of changes this offseason that will dictate the future of this franchise for years to come.

– Cleveland has a lot to work on for sometime and I hope the next person to run this franchise can get them onto some winning ways. There is definitely talent to build on in Cleveland; it just comes down to what this franchise does to put around some potentially young franchise players.

– If you’ve read this blog throughout the season then you know I’ve been very leery of the Denver Broncos. Their lack of schedule strength bothered me when it comes to them playing in the playoffs but I’m starting to turn the corner on it not affecting them after all. The Broncos could very well be the AFC representation in Super Bowl 47 right now. A lot is “clicking” at the right time for Denver.

– Congrats to Kansas City on winning the #1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Now the real question is whether or not they draft Geno Smith to be their quarterback. Personally I think that could be a huge mistake but they have plenty of time to think that over now.

– At one point it looked like the Patriots would have to play in the Wild Card round as the three seed but now they can sit at home next week and rest up for the Divisional Round. A well rested Patriots team is of course, a very dangerous playoff team. It almost seems like it’s too good to be true that we could get Denver (Peyton) vs. New England (Brady) in the AFC Championship Game again.

– I’m sure this isn’t the way Miami wanted to end their season but I do think this team is headed into the right direction right now. A couple moves in the offseason could have them competing for Wild Card playoff spots next year.

– Thanks for the memories Norv Turner. I will miss writing about you and wondering if you will be fired…every…regular…season. I have been doing these blogs for Camel Clutch Blog now for (I believe to be) 4 seasons, so that tells you how I long I’ve speculated Norv would be let go.

– The Raiders have taken steps forward the last couple years and now they have taken, yet again, dramatic steps back. I don’t know when this franchise can be turned around because right now it really looks bleak.

– Congrats to the San Francisco 49ers on winning the NFC West and getting the #2 seed in the NFC. In my opinion this team is the #1 seed in the NFC and I really like their chances to make Super Bowl 47 this season. When you have a really good defense and an offense that keeps getting better, good things will happen.

– Dear Arizona Cardinals, you know what to do during the offseason. Go get yourself a quarterback, you know, a real quarterback or you will have a very upset franchise wide receiver named Larry Fitzgerald. Sincerely yours, common sense.

– The Seahawks get the victory but I’m not sure it’s the way they wanted to head into the playoffs. Seattle struggled for most of this game and didn’t look as dominant as they have been in recent weeks. The Seahawks will still be a tough team to beat come playoff time but I wonder if they are losing their “luster” a bit, it’s something to definitely keep an eye on next week versus Washington in the Wild Card round.

– The St. Louis Rams really ended this 2012 regular season very strong. They were competitive against really good teams in their division, San Francisco & Seattle (even getting a big win against the 49ers this year) and they are improving heading into 2013. The defense is young and very talented but their offense seems to be lacking at the moment. I really hope Sam Bradford can be “the guy” for this St. Louis team in 2013 because I really like what I am seeing from the Rams right now.

– What a miracle season for the Minnesota Vikings in 2012. Nobody and I mean NOBODY saw this team as a playoff team, let alone a playoff contender this year. If you were like me you probably saw them as the last-place team in the NFC North. Well now they take on Green Bay in the Wild Card round and have nothing to lose because they weren’t “supposed to be there.” Oh and dear NFL, don’t forget to give Adrian Peterson the NFL MVP award this season!

– I’m sure this isn’t the way Green Bay wanted to end their season but not getting a first-round bye may be what this team needs. In 2010 they had no first-round bye and won the Super Bowl. In 2011 they had a first-round bye and got crushed in the divisional round. The Packers will be healthy against the Vikings, know what they need to do to stop Minnesota and will thankfully be home in a playoff game. I still like the Packers as a “quiet” pick right now in the NFC.

– Add Washington to the list of Indianapolis and Minnesota as surprise teams making the playoffs in 2012. Weeks ago this team was “left for dead” by their own head coach and now they are the 2012 NFC East division champions. No telling what this team can do come playoff time because like the Vikings, they “weren’t supposed to be here.” It’s the playoffs and as we have learned the last two seasons, anyone can win the Super Bowl.

- It almost seems fitting that Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys end their season like this. I really wonder how this team will look on Week 1 in 2013. A lot of major changes could be coming the way of this Dallas Cowboys franchise.

– Many thanks to you the reader and of course Eric Gargiulo for allowing me to blog after every week throughout the 2012 NFL regular season. It’s a job I have enjoyed here since 2009 and am glad to have another regular season under my belt. Stay tuned for my Wild Card predictions blog later this week and my Wild Card round thoughts blog a week from today!

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

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NFL Week 16 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

December 24, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 16 in the National Football League!

– Congrats to the Falcons on clinching the #1 seed in the NFC and having home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Personally, I believe while it’s a tremendous feat, they may be the weakest #1 seed in the NFL playoffs in some time. Their passing offense is great but their run game and defense can be shaky depending on the week. Let’s see if the ATL can make me eat my words yet again this season.

- Congrats to Calvin Johnson on breaking Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record! Can we now say that the “Madden Curse” is done?

– Quietly, the Green Bay Packers are continuing to emerge in the NFC. While it is the Titans, they kept the momentum going throughout this one. Things are getting interesting for the Pack…

– At least the Titans put 7 points on the board and weren’t shut out…right?

– New Orleans gets to play spoiler against Dallas and can at least have a .500 record should they win next week. Nice to see the Saints giving it a shot and being competitive with nothing left to play for.

– What are the Cowboys doing!? They need to win these games and they are going through the same problem they always have this time of the year. Next week will be very interesting as the Cowboys will play for the NFC East division crown in Week 17 for the 2nd straight season.

– Congrats to the Indianapolis Colts on clinching a playoff berth this week. Better yet, Chuck Pagano will be returning to this playoff team very soon. Great story this year in the National Football League, I love that Chuck Pagano and the Colts are proving anyone can beat the odds.

– One more loss and the Chiefs clinch the #1 overall pick!

– Well at least Miami has a chance at a .500 season next week; they could be a sneaky pick in the NFC East next season.

– Buffalo needs to fire Chan Gailey at the end of the season.

– San Diego beats the New York Jets in Week 16; this is monumental because it could be Norv Turner’s last win as the Chargers head coach.

– So Tim Tebow gets flack for telling the coaching staff to not put him in the “Wildcat formation” after he was passed over for the 3rd string quarterback and people are complaining? Tebow has been a good solider for this Jets team all season long and when we look back on his tenure with this team the Jets could’ve really affected his NFL playing career based off of the way they handled him. He gets brought along basically to sell seats and not play, yet people have a problem with him removing himself from the “wildcat!?” C’mon man.

– Big win for the Redskins and they keep on rolling. It’s all on the line in Week 17 for them as they take on Dallas for the NFC East crown. The playoffs begin (and could end) next week for the ‘Skins.

– Fitting way for Andy Reid’s potentially last home game as the head coach of the Eagles to end like that.

– How about the Cincinnati Bengals this season? They force Roethlisberger to make a crucial interception in the final minute of the game, make a huge offensive play to set up the field goal and win it. That was a franchise achieving moment for the Bengals and their fans to knock out their rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

– I wonder if we could see any changes in the offseason to this Steelers team. They are getting older, the window is getting smaller and the coaches may not be gelling. Interesting times for this Steelers franchise and it could’ve been prevented had they won today.

– St. Louis is quietly ending their season very strong right now. This is another team that could enter 2013 as a surprise team in the NFC West. With the exception of Sam Bradford (the jury is still out on him), I like what is going in St. Louis.

– Tough to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to end their season like this. Really had high hopes for them at the midway point of the season.

– Carolina beats Oakland and this Panthers team continues to play well at the wrong point in the season. At least someone is probably keeping their job in Carolina, for now.

– Want to know how bad the Raiders are? Matt Leinart was the backup after Carson Palmer got hurt. How come they just didn’t bring Terrelle Pryor in to see what they got?

– A win-is-a-win but New England cannot be playing like this with less then two weeks to go until the playoffs. They played shaky against San Francisco last week and lost. They played shaky this week and almost lost. Hopefully it’s just a bad stretch for the Patriots so they can get it out of their system now and not in the Playoffs.

– If Jacksonville beat New England with Chad Henne as the Quarterback in Week 16 would that have saved him from the (rumored) incoming “TebowMania” next season?

– Minnesota needed this win and they got it. The Vikings are stepping up at the right time and didn’t need Adrian Peterson to pile on the rushing yards to do it. They win next week and they are in, it’s that simple.

– Houston is playing extremely sloppy at the wrong point in the season. It amazes me that they still have a chance at a First-Round bye next week.

– Denver is the only consistent team in the AFC right now and it’s coming at the right time with the playoffs nearing. I just hope that the Broncos weak schedule doesn’t come back to haunt them like it did for New England last season.

– Who saw the Cleveland Browns having 5 wins this season? They have a chance at 6 next week and amongst Browns fans that would be overachieving.

– Well they may have been struggling lately but they got a crucial win in Week 16 against Arizona. Lovie’s job as head coach is safe for at least this week; if they fail to beat Detroit in Week 17 or make the playoffs then it could be franchise-changing times in Chicago.

– Arizona really needs a quarterback and I don’t think Alex Smith or Mark Sanchez is the answer.

– All of us left the Ravens for “dead” and got proven wrong in Week 16. This is the type of win a team needs at this point in the season when they have been struggling and the Ravens got it. I still am not a huge believer in their playoffs chances but the win was really encouraging.

– I cannot believe there is a large probability that the Giants don’t make the playoffs this season. At times they have played like the best team in the league and in recent weeks they have been extremely inconsistent. The defending Super Bowl Champions need A LOT of things to happen next week, including for them to defeat Philadelphia of course, for them to make the playoffs.

– The Seattle Seahawks are proving to the NFL that they may just be the team to beat come January. What a huge win for the Seahawks against one of the best teams in the league, the San Francisco 49ers. This team is gaining momentum at the right time and we all know what that means come playoff time…

- Injuries and inconsistency in the last 6 quarters could be coming to haunt the Niners at the wrong time in the season. The fact that they may not have a first-round bye in the playoffs is extremely surprising and it’s possible that this team could be underachieving. Hopefully that changes once January hits.

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

You can follow Jeff on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JeffPeck979ESPN

“LIKE” 97.9 ESPN on Facebook: www.facebook.com/979espn

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NFL Week 13 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

December 04, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 13 in the National Football League!

- Great win for the Atlanta Falcons in primetime as they improve to 11-1 on the season. I have been very critical of the Falcons ability against good teams all season and they proved in back-to-back weeks they can pull it off. Now they just need to show up come playoff time…

– Say what you will about the New Orleans Saints but they gave it a pretty valiant effort these last couple of weeks. It will take a miracle for them to be playoff bound in 2012 as they get their 7th loss of the season here in Week 13. I wonder if the “Sean Payton magic” will be able to get this team back where they typically are in 2013, obviously if Payton returns.

– I’m sure many Buffalo Bills fans wondered where this team has been all season long and the funny thing about this Bills team is that they can’t be counted out completely just yet. They are 5-7 on the year and just sit outside the 6th seed in the AFC. Certainly that tells you how weak the AFC truly is this season.

– After two weeks of “Jaguar-Mania” they finally came back to Earth. Sorry Jacksonville, Chad Henne is decent but not your savior. I’m sure Alex Smith will be looking for a job next season…or will he.

– Seattle has been a pretty nice surprise all season long in the NFC. They pick up their 7th win on the season and get another hard fought win against a pretty good team in Chicago. Not a bad year when you beat Green Bay (technically), New England and Chicago in one season.

– I’ve been preaching this belief off-and-on the last couple of weeks: the Chicago Bears aren’t as good as their record shows. Believe me when I say that because they have trouble against good NFL teams. They need to turn that belief around before playoff time gets here.

– Green Bay looked like they were still hung over from the knockout punch they received last week from the Giants in the 1st half and then had shades of the Packers we have been used to the last couple of seasons in the 2nd half. It could be a good sign for Aaron Rodgers and company.

– How is Adrian Peterson not the NFL MVP favorite right now? I know Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have had good seasons but would the Vikings be where they are right now without him? 21 carries for 210 yards, enough said.

– The Colts are having a miracle season right now and if you don’t believe me watch Andrew Luck’s game-winning pass in Detroit. Indianapolis has been the best story in the NFL all season long, amazing stuff.

– Hello, can anyone hear me yet? Fire Jim Schwartz at the end of the season! He literally coached the Detroit Lions out of a win…AGAIN!

– Sure Houston plays in an easy division but they still need to get the easy wins as well. The Texans did just that and got their 11th win of the season. Home-field advantage is getting closer to their grasps.

– I may be in the minority on this one but I really enjoy what I see out of Jake Locker on a weekly basis. I really hope Tennessee continues to believe in the kid, he is definitely poised to potentially surprise his critics with his pla.

– Tough weekend for the Kansas City Chiefs, my thoughts & prayers go out to them, the families involved and of course the 3-month old who was left behind in this selfish tragedy. I know a win won’t completely heal this situation but I hope it was able to take their minds off of it for a little bit.

– The more I watch this team play the more I realize that Ron Rivera just isn’t the right fit there. The Panthers need a coach who will know how to properly utilize Cam Newton, imagine Chip Kelly of Oregon coaching this team next year…

– Whatever the St. Louis Rams do the rest of the NFL needs to follow because they have the ingredient on how to beat the 49ers. Watch both of these games!

– San Francisco loses but that doesn’t change my belief in Colin Kaepernick as the starter for this team. The 49ers still have the best chance in winning when he is on the field.

– New England is the best team in the AFC but suffer from a tough schedule and it’s going to be tougher in the coming weeks as they take on Houston in Week 14 & San Francisco in Week 15. These next two games will be very telling in regards to the Patriots chances come playoff time.

– Seriously Dolphins? You have a chance to make things interesting in the AFC playoff standings and you lose yet again when it matters the most? Granted its New England but c’mon make the AFC interesting!

– The Jets get a win in a historical snoozer. Bench Mark Sanchez, start Tim Tebow (if he’s healthy) and just have Greg McElroy ready to go if Tebow isn’t cutting it. You brought Tebow in there for a reason now just start him at QB!

– How does Larry Fitzgerald wake up every Sunday morning knowing that he is playing for this team and that these Quarterback’s are throwing to him?

– Believe me when I tell you this, the AFC may be a weak conference but the Denver Broncos are going to make the playoff seeds very interesting amongst the division leaders. This could get very fun, very quickly.

– Sadly it’s starting to look like maybe that “glimmer” on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season is starting to wear off. Has been a fun year and I hope they can piece back together for the final weeks of the season.

– Back-to-back wins for the Cleveland Browns…it’s been a while since we could say that.

– Oakland is just plain awful. I’m starting to really wonder if the Raiders will just give Terrelle Pryor a shot to see what he’s got as a NFL QB. What do you have to lose at this point?

– Quietly the Cincinnati Bengals continue to make noise in the NFL as they have won their last 4 games. They sit just outside the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC playoff standings and are a dangerous team with just 4 games to go.

– 4-8 season = Fire Norv Turner. I wonder if San Diego would consider looking a potential replacement for Phillip Rivers cause I’m not sure if he is the right fit for the Chargers anymore either.

– Wow how lucky was the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13? Great win for them and their playoff chances stay alive. I wonder if we will see a “Big Ben” return next week with the season starting to dwindle down.

– Tough loss for Baltimore as their inconsistency once again rears its ugly head. This team would be so good if they could just get it together. The loss now puts Baltimore as the #3 seed in the AFC and no longer facing a first-round bye, in-fact if the season ended today they would play Pittsburgh again.

– Good win for Dallas on Sunday Night, they still looked inconsistent against a weak Philadelphia Eagles team but a win is a win and they stay alive in the NFC Playoff picture.

– Philadelphia didn’t look terrible in their loss to Dallas on Sunday Night. In fact they looked pretty encouraging as the Eagles were able to make plays offensively, something they needed to see badly with a rookie QB and RB starting for them against the Cowboys. It’s still too little, too late but at least they continue to try and play spoiler in the NFC East.

– Huge win for Washington and now things have gotten very interesting in the NFC East. I have this strange feeling that the Giants may not be the NFC East representative when it’s all said and done.

- The Giants had their chance to capitalize on wins in back-to-back weeks and separate themselves from the NFC East. They failed to do so and now have created yet another typical end of the season for the Eli Manning led New York Giants. This is going to get fun with 4 games to go.

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

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Fantasy Football 2012 Second Half Make Or Break Players

October 31, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

With a half of the NFL season in the books it is time for fantasy owners to get serious and bear down for what lies ahead. Some of you may be in pretty good shape, riding a high and having a good record, sitting back and waiting for the playoffs. Some of you are in the middle, every win and every loss are critical, and with every one yard gain you cringe, every dropped pass makes you scream, oh and that share time with RBs? Yes just makes you want to cripple that rookie who is stealing your man’s time. Others, well you are playing spoiler and trying to take others down. No matter where you are on this food chain, it never hurts to have a little more advice.

The article is called “Make or Break” and it is just that easy. I will go through players that can make your season, and those who seem destined to break it. If you have the “Make” guys keep a close eye on them and prepare a spot in your line up for them every week. The “Break” guys, well it is pretty easy to understand. The reason it starts getting tough is the factors of: 1) As an NFL team struggles, they try and groom new players and test them out which hurts playing time for the regulars. 2) When NFL teams are playing really well, and lock up playoff spots, they tend to take it easy on the stars to avoid injury. These factors can be killers, so watch the waiver wire, know your bench, and get ready for a wild second half. This is your cheat sheet! Good luck everyone.

Here are some “Make” players:

Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Over his first 4 games, Freeman had just 5 TDs and averaged under 200 yards, while the Bucs offense struggled. Over the last 4 however, big stuff! Freeman has over 1,000 yards and 9 TDs and the Buccaneers seem to feel safer with him throwing the ball. They run decent too, so a balance, included with Freeman throwing more often near the end zone is helping. He is suddenly looking like the guy from 2010 over the guy from last year. If you are tight at QB, Freeman is available in some leagues, he’s a good pick right now.

Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams: When we last saw Amendola on the field he was making dynamic catches in a game against the Cardinals, then an injury that some thought ended his year. However, zoom ahead a few weeks, and here is the little tough guy, practicing and ready for a comeback. The Rams will have a bye come week 9, and when they return they will have their top WR back. Before his injury he was averaging 6 catches and 80 yards, plus return yards and had 2 TDs. He will be active upon return, grab him or get ready to use him.

Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys: He looks to be back and healthy and with the way the Cowboys offense has struggled, he is back just in time. In week 8 he had 18 catches, yes 18 in a game against the New York Giants. Witten has always been a big catch numbers guy, and a nice red zone option. With lots of questions about who is the go to guy here, Witten is primed to snag that role.

LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB, Arizona Cardinals: If you are in a PPR league, and you need a good flex, watch the progress on Howling. He is the most versatile back on this team by far, and shows good explosiveness. Beanie Wells can return soon, but it should not hurt the time Howling spends on the field. He runs well, and should be getting more time as the Cardinals look for answers moving forward.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: He has been hurting many owners, the proof is in the numbers. However the fortune of McCoy may change very soon. Head coach Andy Reid is hinting at a change at QB, sending in the rookie Nick Foles over Michael Vick, which could and should mean many more carries and passes for McCoy. He had 2 TDs in week 8, and the Eagles realize the time has come to get him more involved. This week 9 match against a poor Saints defense should help kick start the offense.

Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans: Another guy that made owners cry over the first few weeks, Johnson has come on better the last few weeks. It seems with a veteran QB like Matt Hasselback running the offense teams can’t focus just on the run, and it helps Johnson find some space. He has rushed for close to 400 yards and has had 8 catches and 2 TDs as well over his last 3 games. Now is the time to use him, you could do a lot worse.

Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos: 5 TDs over his last 4 weeks is a telling sign that Peyton Manning has faith in Decker. We know they run well now, and have loads of guys who can play here, but Decker is looking like the guy that Manning trust with timing patterns and red zone catches. We know he is a good ball player, as he showed even with Tim Tebow at QB. So why not trust him with one of the all time best at QB? The other plus, he looks good in any match up as defenses have to focus on the ability of Thomas to go deep.

Miami Dolphins Defense: Usually the smart thing is to play to the match ups, but this defense has been special of late. Their 120 points allowed is third best in the league, and their 22 sacks is good for sixth. They swarm to the ball and play aggressive, and have been one of the better squads the last few weeks. As I said watch the match ups, but grab them and be ready to use them.

Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers: His name is all the buzz in Fantasy Football, and it is clear as to why. Over his last 3 games Cobb has caught 20 passes for 220 yards and 3 TDs. He also does some stuff in the return game, and has blazing speed, which makes him a threat to always go all the way every time he touches the ball. Right now with Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson banged up, and a lack of faith in other options, Cobb has become the best bet on a very good team.

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: His numbers early this year were brutal, but over the last 3 weeks he has run for close to 240 yards, which is more than half of his seasons total, also 11 catches and a TD, which also come close to half his totals. Let’s face it, he is a dynamic talent, but needs help to get rolling along. QB Carson Palmer has improved which of course helps McFadden. He is making progress, so run with him.

Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Over 100 yards in both of his games he started the last 2 weeks is a good start, and his competition is not only hurting physically, but hurting their chances of playing time. Another great stat is a lusty 5.2 yards per carry, on a team that loves to run the ball. Now he just needs to find the end zone, and he will be that mid-season pick up you dream of finding.

Darryl Richardson, RB, St. Louis Rams: The Rams are still learning who they are, and Richardson may be a huge part of that new regime. As the trade deadline looms there are rumors of longtime RB Steven Jackson being traded, which may help him as well. Over his last 3 weeks he has rushed for 170 yards and also hauled in 10 catches, head coach Jeff Fisher likes this kid, and it may lead to the number 1 spot here.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: The worries of too much work, and last years knee injury are well behind him, so now is the time for Peterson to be a leader for your Fantasy team. Long runs, hard runs, and catches have him very active, and with the Vikings still in the playoff hunt, they will need to lean hard on Peterson. He has even found the end zone the last 2 weeks. Looks like the Peterson of old is coming back!

Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Staggering numbers here. Over the last 4 weeks: 31 catches, over 460 yards as well. Sure, he only has 2 TDs this season, but in a PPR league Wayne has not slowed down, and while some still worry about going with him, it is a mistake to bench him. Wayne is still Wayne, whether he has Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning, as long as Curtis Painter isn’t coming back.

Owen Daniels, TE, Houston Texans: If you are in a league that require a tight end, then you have to roll with Daniels. After a slow start he has come on strong with 20 catches and 3 TDs over his last 4 games. We know Arian Foster gets the majority of touches, but Daniels has been real good and can make your team complete at TE.

Santana Moss, WR, Washington Redskins: Holy flex player! His numbers are not overwhelming, but over the last 4 games he has 4 TDs and gets some looks in this offense. They use him a lot in the slot, which is not usually his fit, but they are finding ways to get him the ball, and he makes the most out of his touches. You all may know that teams are usually short that one guy, Moss makes an excellent plug in for just that type of situation, and he should continue to be busy.

Fred Jackson/CJ Spiller, RBs, Buffalo Bills: The most reliable time share in the NFL, it is hard not to use either one of these guys. Both catch passes, and are used in Buffalo’s new short game, and both run well. Jackson runs with great power and Spiller great speed, and they are both double-digit scorers pretty much every week. The team as a whole may not be super, but these 2 backs sure are worth it.

Here are some Breaks:

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions: With each passing week I hear phrases like “you can’t possibly bench Megatron”. Really? Maybe we should check again. Just 6 catches on 15 targets and under 40 yards in the last 2 weeks is awfully scary and he only has just 1 TD this year, and not thrown by Matthew Stafford. Sure for a while we could blame the bad offense, but last week they racked up yards and points and still not much from Mega. He is also playing with a bad knee, against the fabled Madden Curse, and poor confidence. Watch him carefully because he can shatter your team.

Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: The rumors are buzzing through Philly much like the winds of Hurricane Sandy that Vick may be headed to the bench. It would be a justified move as well as he leads the NFL in turnovers by a QB, and seems to have lost a step as far as running. He is not getting much, and the time may be here to use another QB. The Eagles are sure planning on it.

Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins: As a guy that owns Bush in every league this hurts to say, but his production has been limited. Suddenly he sees Daniel Thomas become the red zone guy and is getting less carries each week. Has it been justified? Not really. He still averages 4.5 yards per carry and has good hands. Last week he was productive, but seems to be losing favor in Miami. Grab Daniel Thomas if you can, he seems to be taking over.

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers: More owners seem to be benching him, and it is not the worst idea right now. He has just 1 total TD over the last 3 weeks, and only 8 total for the year, an average of 1 per week. He is losing confidence and is losing control of his team, which is loaded with too many RBs and not enough top flight WRs. Newton is trouble right now for your team.

Arizona Cardinals Defense: Remember in week 4, when everyone was running around trying to grab this defense? What happened? Well they were handled in week 8 by the 49ers and are not making big plays right now. Much of it can be blamed on a bad offense that limits the time they get to recover, and also teams have caught up to what they bring. Right now it is very uneventful, and you can do much better.

BenJarvis Green-Ellis, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: The last 4 weeks have not been kind to this “Law Firm”. Green-Ellis is averaging just 56 yards per game, hasn’t sniffed the end zone, and is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry. There was doubt coming into this season how he would fare as the primary back, and it looks as if he is slowing down. I realize it is hard right now in Fantasy land to find lots of good RB play, but this guy surely isn’t a good option.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants: Since his injury after week 2, Nicks has been eased back into this offense. Very eased I may add, with just 12 catches over his last 3 weeks, and he hasn’t gone over 50 yards in any contest. Victor Cruz owns this show now, and there is many options to work with. Nicks still gets started in plenty of leagues, but the time has come to wait for him to be more active before using him with any confidence.

Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins: I warned all of you that after his huge blow up game that it was time to sell. Since that monster 12 catch and 253 yard day with a TD against the Cardinals, Hartline has just 8 catches for 100 yards and no TDs in 3 games. He has never been a huge numbers guy, and for me I think that guys like Bess and Bush are better options for pass catches. Also the rumor that they may trade for Dwayne Bowe won’t help.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Now don’t get me wrong, I love Fitz, but for what you expect for him you are getting far less. His QBs are struggling, and for it he has just 1 TD over the last 4 weeks, and that came against the woeful Bills defense. He will get some, but the some he is getting isn’t good enough for what you expect, and the time to bench him may be here.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: If you have the option, you may think of trading him if someone will fall for it. Over the last 2 weeks he has just 44 yards on 17 carries, and with Peyton Hillis back, he may get used even less. When asked this past week about his 5 carry workload, head coach Romeo Crennel simply said “I’m not exactly sure.”We were rotating our backs in there. Hillis was back and he was able to get some carries. He was somewhat effective. When a guy’s effective, we kind of stay with him a little bit.” That sounds nothing like a guy who is confident in who he has. Hillis will steal carries and hurt Charles owners badly.

Martellus Bennett, TE, New York Giants: Where have you gone TD man? Early in the season Bennett was getting a TD per week and was active in this offense. Well times have changed, and he has not scored a TD since week 3 and his catch totals have been quite average. Bennett came here with the reputation as a blocking TE and he is starting to look more like one each week.

Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans: Enough already. Just 13 catches and 1 TD over the last 4 weeks is poor enough, and now word of yet another possible injury. Britt just hasn’t panned out to be what many thought he would be over the last few seasons, and now the time to not only bench him, but let him be free and use the roster spot for someone else.

Jacob Tamme, TE, Denver Broncos: When the season started many thought that Peyton Manning would go wild with Tamme being that he knew his styles from the days at Indy. Now he is just an extra, and not getting much. In the last 4 weeks he is averaging 4 catches and about 40 yards per game, and knows nothing about the end zone. He is not even the top TE on his own team anymore, so stop trying to force his will.

Andrew Hawkins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: He looked like a logical answer to be the number 2 choice for the Bengals early this season, but since then has become average at best. Just 15 catches and under 150 yards over the last 4 weeks with 0 TDs is more than enough evidence to let you know it is time to stop reaching with this guy. The Bengals have 2 prime targets in Gresham and Green, if you don’t own either of them, lay off the Bengals.

Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets: Hopefully you aren’t fooled by that 161 yard week he had a few weeks ago, because that game aside he has only 340 yards in his other 7, an average of under 50 yards per game. He had a TD and 6 catches last week, but this is a bad offense right now, and he has never been a big time back. Many of you drafted him fairly early, and want to stay faithful but it is so hard right now.

Greg Zuerlein, K, St. Louis Rams: Now I love “LegaTron” but he is lacking chances right now. In week 8 in London, head coach Jeff Fisher passed on 3 chances to kick field goals of around 50 yards due to how far behind his team was. The Rams are not moving the ball very well, and his chances are getting less and less. From a fantasy stand point he hasn’t gotten over double digits in several weeks. Yes, a kicker won’t make a huge difference, but things can get close enough where 5-10 points can really matter.

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Decoy much? Yes he got that big contract, but he done little to explode for Fantasy owners. He has just 1 TD this season, and over the past 4 weeks he has had an interesting pattern of catches of 4,7,4,7 and for the yardage under 50 or over 80. He is a decent PPR reach, but not a stellar WR1 or WR2 right now. He has to be killing some owners for sure.

Matt Schaub, QB, Houston Texans: He is still a good game manager, and a decent QB, but the Texans don’t lean on him near as much as they used too. Just 10 TDs in 7 games this season, which is better than just 1 per game, and his yardage has been pedestrian. It is a team that moves the ball with good defense and a nice running game, so the time to use Schaub will be limited as a bye week cover, which also are near the end. Keep him as a nice back up but don’t try and ride him to a Fantasy title.

Keep an eye on some names as the trade deadline looms:

Tim Tebow, QB, New York Jets: With his ability to run, and a decent arm he can be worth something to a team that really needs a working QB. He isn’t gold, but he can certainly challenge the numbers in Fantasy of some regulars if moved.

Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams: Being on this team the nickname “Battering Ram: was fitting, but a possible move could mean a nice stretch run for Jackson before he fades away into an aged once-was back. He can still play, but only a move to a contender can help his value now.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers: His big contract makes him hard to trade, but a change of scene is exactly what he may need to show signs of the back he was a few years ago. The in and out and not knowing when style he plays in Carolina hurts him a great deal, and the time to get out is now.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: Loads of talent, and a real bad situation here. Bowe makes big catches, can get into the end zone and is a prime WR for any team. He is due for a new contract which will have him most likely out of KC next season anyway so now is the time to try and cash in on a trade if possible. Some teams fighting for a playoff spot could use him badly, and I see him as the most likely player to be traded.

Here is some news and updates for your fantasy team. Keep a watch on these guys and use them accordingly. The stretch run is here, and every win is crucial.
Good luck owners!

I have now joined Twitter, so if you would like to ask any questions or need any advice feel free to reach out to my personal account, @JPshark71.

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NFL 2012-13 Season Quarter Report

October 05, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

harrison smithThe run for the Lombardi Trophy is underway. The proverbial starting gate has been sprung open, and the 32 NFL teams are fighting for position. As it is said in the NFL, the season is a marathon and not a sprint. A team can not win the Super Bowl in four games, but an early loss can come back to haunt the team later when it comes down the stretch for playoff positioning.

There are 12 more games to go, and the NFL is at the quarter pole. Of course, my being a horse racing fan, I am going to use a little horse racing jargon. I can’t help myself.

The race to the Super Bowl to me is like the Kentucky Derby. After all, there is all the pomp and circumstance with both events, etc. As the Derby is 1 1/4 miles and starts at the top of the stretch, I would say at this juncture, the 32 NFL teams would be “passing the stands for the first time,” as many racing announcers have said about the bum rush of horses going for the first turn to try to get position.

In this blog, I will not be discussing all 32 teams and their situations. What will be discussed are several general observations that I have made over the course of the first four games. I will talk about specific players and teams, but I won’t cover every one. I will even talk about how the press, especially ESPN, has handled certain matters.

I hope you will enjoy this.

1. The Labor conflict between the referees and the NFL

I am one who believes the refs (in all sports) should be seen and not heard. In other words, if there is a penalty, just call it and go away. I never could stand it when refs, especially MLB Umpires made themselves more important than the players fans paid good money to see.

What I thought was disappointing was that the deal that was eventually signed possibly could have been done months ago. Why did the OWNERS (who Roger Goodell works for) dig into their positions like they did? Why did Cowboys owner Jerry Jones play, “See No Evil. Speak No Evil. Hear No Evil?” when it came to the substitute referees? It didn’t take a genius to figure out those people were in over their heads.

Sadly, each week, ESPN and NFL Network talked more about the referees than the games. Of course, it took the Green Bay Packers to get screwed out of a win on Monday Night Football, and ESPN to go nuts for the NFL to negotiate the deal.

2. The constant love affair with “America’s Team” has to end.

I am going to be honest. I have always hated the Dallas Cowboys. I never liked them. My dislike for them stems for my dislike of just about any sports team that emanates from the state of Texas, particularly Dallas. The main reason is because of the events of November 22, 1963 when then President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and then Governor John Connally was wounded.

The other major reasons for my hating the Cowboys are the media’s constant fawning over them, and people calling them, “America’s Team.” Since when did everyone in the United States pick this team to represent the NFL? I hate the big star on the helmet. I could not stand Roger Staubach and his perfect teeth. I could not stand Staubach’s perfect little image. The Triplets of the 90’s, especially wide receiver Michael Irvin, made me sick.

Now I have to put up with ESPN being in love with Tony Romo who tries to play QB. At least Troy Aikman and Staubach had talent, and won some hardware.

ESPN is going bonkers over the years over a franchise that has won ONE playoff game since 1996. I mean, let’s get real. In Week One of this year, when the Cowboys beat the defending Super Bowl Champions New York Giants, everyone on ESPN were ready to hand the Lombardi to Jerry Jones and his gang. Of course, the Cowboys came back to earth when they got their butts beat by the Seahawks.

Now that the Chicago Bears mauled Romo and the Cowboys, people are jumping on Romo, and blaming him for the loss. While his 5 interceptions did not help, Romo is not the sole problem.

I am not going to go into the details of the game. I just want to say that every time the Cowboys run into trouble, ESPN and other outlets come to the same conclusion that I do. The team has talent, but the head coach is not allowed to be the head coach. There is someone else who is backseat driving so to speak. He is the owner and GM of the team, and that person is Jerry Jones.

My point is that people should stop going nuts when it comes to the Cowboys. Year after year, the song remains the same. Until Jerry Jones decides to relinquish some of the control, it is not going to be any different.

3. New York Jets fans deserve better than what they are getting.

When I lived in New Jersey for the first 29 years of my life, I followed two teams. Those teams were the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants. I started following the New England Patriots way later.

Anyway, I absolutely did NOT like the Jets. I thought the team and a lot of their coaches were a bunch of loudmouths. That head coach Rich Kotite got on my nerves. I couldn’t stand this one particular Jets player, Mark Gastineau. Oh man. He was such a loud mouth. He was so annoying.

Fast forward to today, and I still can’t stand the Jets. The same reasons apply, and their current head coach Rex Ryan is always good for a quote. He loves to antagonize Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Ryan’s obsession with the Patriots is a bit over the top.

I am going to defend their fan base. They are vocal, rowdy, but are very loyal. The last time the New York Jets were in the winner’s circle with the proverbial blanket of roses and holding up that Lombardi Trophy was at Super Bowl 3 in 1969 with Joe Namath at QB.

They have been to playoffs under Bill Parcells, and recently Rex Ryan. However, the team has yet to be in the Super Bowl, no less win it.

During the first four weeks of this season, I cannot help but feel bad for Jets fans. During the preseason, there was always some sort of distraction. Owner Woody Johnson said that he did not want his team described as a “circus.” Well, unfortunately for him, this is what the first four weeks are shaping up to be for his team.

In the first week, the Jets blew out their AFC East rival, the Buffalo Bills. In the second week, the Steelers destroyed them. The Jets just squeaked by AFC East rival Miami Dolphins in Week three and this past week, they were pulverized by the San Fransisco 49ers. In the process, they lost star WR Santonio Holmes to a LisFranc injury and star DB Darrelle Revis to a torn ACL for the year.

The problem with the team is that their once good defense has been compromised due to Revis’ injury. The team, as shown in the pre-season, has barely any offense. With Holmes’ injury, the offense is even worse. Sanchez has not progressed from last year to this year. At this point, he should be improving.

I am not a fan of Tebow as a player, but perhaps he should get a shot.

My point is that Jets fans deserve way better than this. Fans saw some of their players being very rude to reporters after last season. Bart Scott this year had some media ban. Mr. Scott’s production has not been all that since coming to the Jets. Scott had that first year with the Jets that was good, but has declined since. I guess that one hit to Ben Roethlisberger is the only thing he will be known for.

Woody Johnson said he didn’t want a circus? Well why did he give Mark Sanchez a new contract only then to trade for Tim Tebow? He could not have been that naive. Was Johnson under a rock last season when for 8 weeks all the media could talk about was Tebow? When Tebow went shirtless, why was he surprised at all the media?

If Johnson didn’t want his team to be a circus, he should not have said he would rather have a Mitt Romney presidency than a winning Jets season. If I were a Jets fan, I would have been annoyed. I don’t want to hear his politics. I want him to run the team so it is a winning team. That is his job.

Jets fans deserve way better. They deserve a team that has mentally functioning players who can play. They deserve responsible ownership and leadership of the team. They are not getting either.

4. Some rather unexpected things in the NFL.

This blog will end with some unexpected things in the NFL thus far.

How about the Vikings being 3-1? I did not see this coming. I know it is any given Sunday, but wow. It is also great to see Adrian Peterson back so soon after the torn ACL as well.

Elite QBs such as Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Aaron Rodgers are leading teams that are .500 or worse. It is a bit shocking to say the least. I am still a little stunned that Drew Brees is leading a Saints team that is 0-4. It’s a little upside down at the moment. However, I expect all these great QBs to turn everything right side up. With the exception of possibly Drew Brees, I suspect all of them will be in the playoffs as well.

Well, that is the end of my blog. As of this writing, the Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams are about to kick off Week 5 which starts the next quarter of the season.

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

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Ranking The Top 30 NFL Quarterbacks – 2012 Preseason Edition

July 17, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Peyton ManningSince it is the off-season for the NFL, the “experts,” and bloggers like myself are coming up with items like lists, and power rankings. Even former NFL players who one would think would know something about the game make somewhat questionable statements, like former Giant receiver Amani Toomer did when he said that Dallas QB Tony Romo is a better quarterback than Giants QB Eli Manning.

I am guessing Mr.Toomer wants to be like former Giants teammate, the disgruntled RB Tiki Barber, and make controversial statements just to hear himself talk. Then again, I don’t remember Toomer getting a Super Bowl ring being on the same team as Tony Romo. I thought it was Eli Manning who led that magnificent 4th Quarter comeback in Super Bowl 42, and threw the winning touch down to Plaxico Burress. That team was the Giants, which Toomer was on, not the Cowboys. It is not nice to bit the hand that feeds you, Mr. Toomer.

In speaking of quarterbacks, and rankings and such, ESPN’s Ron Jaworski, or “Jaws,” as he is call, has been doing his “Top 30 QB Rankings.” He picked 30 QBs in the NFL, and ranked according to skill, talent, past performance, and how they perform, and future performance, etc. I don’t agree with some of his slotting, let’s say that. On NFL Network, they showed their “100 Top Players 2012,” as voted by the players. I realize other positions were involved, but some QBs were slotted in some odd positions, and I will leave it at that as that could be a blog in, and of itself.

Well, what I will be doing in this blog is do my own ranking of the current QBs in the NFL. I will pretty much do what Mr. Jarworski did, and take 30 QBs in the league and rank them. The criteria I will be using is pretty simple: performance from last season, their overall career performance, how I see their performance in the future, and my eyeball test. What I mean by the “eyeball test,” is that I will be judging them for how well they work the QB position, for example things such as manipulating the pocket, and the QB’s mechanics, etc.

What I will be doing in this blog is that I will mention the ranking number, the name of QB, the team, and a line or two about why I ranked the QB the way I did. I hope that sounds easy enough.

Ready for yet, ANOTHER list to fight over? Here we go:

Unranked Players:

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: The reason should be obvious, as Luck is a rookie. He was great at Stanford, but he is going to be playing in the pros.

Robert Griffith III, Washington Redskins: Griffith is in the same category as Luck.

My Top 30 NFL Quarterbacks Rankings are as follows:

30. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars:

I understood he played for Jacksonville, and he was a rookie, but he was a total mess. I watched him on several occasions, and he looked like someone who didn’t know how to play football. He fumbled 14 times, which was the most in the league by a QB. He had the second worse completion percentage for a QB throwing 200 passes. This guy better get on the ball.

29. Tim Tebow, New York Jets:

If Tim Tebow’s biggest mark, ESPN First Take’s Skip Bayless reads this, I am sure he will have a cow, but I could care less. I nearly ranked Tebow last. Tebow just can not throw the football. He has terrible mechanics for the professional level. He got away with them in Florida, but this is the big time. He can’t read a defense to save his life. If things break down, he runs off. Anyway, he is now with the New York Jets. I don’t know what he is going to do in that circus, but perhaps he should sit, and learn from Sanchez. I do see him being used in some capacity, however. If he gets to play, and is patient, he can be a decent player.

28. Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns: The Cleveland Browns QB was a mess. McCoy did not have all that much of a season, as the team had no offense. I mean, Josh Cribbs was really all they had. To beef up the QB position, the team drafted that 28 year old Brandon Weedon who will likely be the starter. I don’t think McCoy is going to be a top guy in the NFL anyway. He always seemed lost out on the field.

27. Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins:

Matt Moore was just passable in his play with the Dolphins. I didn’t see anything all that great with him when he took over for Chad Henne. The Dolphins brought in veteran QB David Garrad , formerly with the Jaguars, and drafted Ryan Tannehill in this year’s NFL Draft, so I don’t see how much of a future he has as a starter in the NFL.

26. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs

Matt Cassel of the Kansas City Chiefs had a horrendous year. He had an awful year as a player, and wound up on the IR due to injury also. Honestly, I was never really sold on Cassel as a top level QB. He had the one good year in New England when Tom Brady got hurt, but that may have been due to the fact that he was handed the keys to the proverbial Mercedes, and was told not to wreck it. However, he did make a Pro Bowl, and the Chiefs did make the playoffs, so maybe last year was just a bad year. Just about all the heavy hitters on the Chiefs were on IR, so let’s see if Cassel can bounce back.

25. Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals:

Well, this is the guy who was supposed to replace McNabb when he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007, right? Well, from his play last year as starter for the Arizona Cardinals, I bet Eagle fans are kind of glad they are happy with Michael Vick. I know Kolb was out with concussions, and such, but when he got on the field, he was a mess. Even when he played for the Eagles as a starter, I didn’t see what was so great about him. He had a lot of fumbles, and was sacked quite a bit both in Arizona, and in Philadelphia. I hope that the coaches in Arizona work with him to eliminate that. I mean, he has one of the best wide receivers in the NFL on his team. He has to find some way to get that ball to Larry Fitzgerald.

24. Matt Flynn, Seattle Seahawks:

Yes, it is unusual to rank a QB who did play last year, but only played one game. I know that. However, Matt Flynn, who was then Green Bay Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers’ backup was sensational. The Packers had everything wrapped up, and rested Rodgers so they decided to let Flynn play against the Detroit Lions. Well, Flynn just beat the Lions like there was no tomorrow. Again, it was just one game, and it is going to be hard to tell if Flynn is gold, or “fool’s gold,” but I think Mike McCarthy, the Packers’ head coach had Flynn prepared, and Flynn should be capable to be a very good QB.

23. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams:

Sam Bradford had an injury filled season last year, mainly to his ankle. It looked like he had the “sophomore slump,” as his stats were down from his rookie year in 2010. I think that he is going to bounce back, as I think he is going to be an awesome QB. I liked him in Oklahoma, and I liked what I saw of him in his rookie year. I see a lot of potential for growth, and I think new head coach, Jeff Fisher will do a great job with him.

22. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

In 2010, Josh Freeman had a very productive year with the Buccaneers, leading them to a 10-6 record, and just missing the playoffs. However, last season, his production was off, and he didn’t show the promise he showed the previous year. He had mechanical issues, and his timing was off. I think with the new coach, Greg Schiano, he should be able to bounce back. I like Freeman as a QB. He has a strong arm, and is mobile, and physical, much like Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger. I think Freeman can be a major player in this league.

21. Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders:

Well, after playing the “I’ll take my ball home.” game with Mike Brown, owner of the Cincinnati Bengals, Palmer got his way, and was traded to the Oakland Raiders, when their starting QB, Jason Campbell suffered a broken clavicle. Oakland, in my opinion, gave up too much, but as for Palmer, he showed flashes of the Palmer of old. I know Palmer has had some serious injuries, but I think he can still be an excellent QB.

20. Alex Smith, San Fransico 49ers:

Alex Smith is a bit of an enigma. After the 49ers drafted him in 2005, there was a lot of pressure on the guy. There were times, where Smith looked lost on the field. I was wondering if the guy knew how to play at one point. Smith went through several offensive coordinators also, which I don’t think helps a QB’s development. However, I think the light came on last year when new coach Jim Harbaugh came in, and he had not only Smith, but the whole team turned around. Smith became a smart, and very efficient passer, and showed a lot of promise of being a #1 overall pick in that 2005 draft. How he will do this year will be interesting. Harbaugh has to patch things up with Alex over the wooing of a one Peyton Manning, who Harbaugh said never happened. Sure, Coach Harbaugh.

19. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills:

Harvard graduate Ryan Fitzpatrick is a very interesting QB to me. There are times he shows he belongs with the top guys, but he also shows signs of ineptness. He is great in the beginning of the season, in particular, but as the season goes on, he gets worse. Last season, everyone from ESPN on down were putting the Bills in the Super Bowl because of their excellent start, and one of their wins was against the New England Patriots. A lot of it was due to Fitzpatrick, who got a 69 million dollar contract. I knew the Bills would crash and burn sooner or later, and they did. Well, now that the Bills have beefed up their defense, and worked on their offense, I am interested in seeing what Fitzpatrick does. He has potential, but potential only goes so far.

18. Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans:

After a few injury filled seasons in his last years as a Seattle Seahawk, Hasselbeck left Seattle as a free agent, and joined the Tennessee Titans. Hasselbeck wanted to stay in Seattle, but he did not like the contract being offered. Anyway, he had a very good season, and played well. He led the Titans to a 9-7 season, just missing the playoffs. I am not a huge fan of his, but he always showed good mechanics, and has lead the Seahawks to the playoffs, and a Super Bowl in the past. I will give him that. He is at the tail end of his career, as he will be 37 in September. He will likely have maybe one or two good years left as a starter.

17. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets:

Sanchez befuddles me at times. There were times last year, and even throughout his NFL career when he can throw the ball “on a rope,” as the NFL experts say, and I am thinking he may be the second coming of Joe Namath. However, there are times he just looks lost out there, throwing interceptions, and fumbling, and I am just puzzled. I am thinking, “This is the guy who ESPN constantly touts as defeating Peyton Manning and Tom Brady back to back?” Sanchez has to get on the ball, and work his butt off. He has playoff wins, and has the talent to get to the next level. Many of those wins, including the playoff wins, were more due to the defense, in my opinion. However, Sanchez needs to step it up, or we will be hearing those sickening chants, and I am not talking about that goofball “Fireman” Ed either.

16. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans:

Matt Schaub is another QB I can’t figure out. He is a very good QB. I am not sure though that he is on the elite level, but he has pretty good mechanics, and plays on a team with elite players such as wide receiver Andre Johnson, and running back Arian Foster. However, it is his fragility that bothers me. He was on IR last year after playing 10 games, due to a foot injury. The team made the playoffs, and even won a playoff game without him. He has injuries throughout his career. If Schaub can stay healthy this year, and for years to come, I believe he can be one of the top guys.

15. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals:

Andy Dalton did a very good job with the Cincinnati Bengals. He has great accuracy, and a great ability to throw on the run. He lead the Bengals to the playoffs. Even though they lost to the Texans, it was obvious to me that Dalton is the franchise’s future.

14. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers:

As being the number one overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, I was one of the very few people who was a believer in Cam Newton. Many of the supposed “experts,” and snarky fans immediately thought Newton was going to be a bust. I find it interesting that this year, the same experts, and snarky fans are in love with Andrew Luck. I wonder why.

Anyway, I also saw that Mike Greenberg of ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” also was a backer of Newton. I was thinking, “Oh dear, Newton is going to fall to the “Greeny curse.” Well, guess what? Greeny was right for a change. Not only did Newton, at least statistically have a great year, but he had statistically the best year by a rookie QB ever. He won Offensive Rookie of the year. Yes, the Panthers won only 6 games, but Newton was a sensation to watch. He had, for a rookie QB with a shortened off season due to the lockout, very good presence in the pocket, and had very, VERY good accuracy. He did not automatically run when things broke down. I see great things for Newton, as long as he keeps working, and keeps his focus.

13. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles:

As the QB of last year’s “Dream Team, ” as former backup Vince Young called them, Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Vince had a bit of a roller coaster type of years. He suffered several injuries, and cried about how the referees weren’t making the calls to protect him. Vick missed several games as well. Overall, he has been an exciting athlete to watch, even though he has only played one, or two full 16 seasons due to his penchant for running. However, Andy Reid has done a good job with getting Vick to be more of a pocket passer, especially in his renaissance year of 2010. What will be interesting for Vick in the future will be to see if he can keep improving, and stay healthy.

12. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons:

Ever since Matt “Matty Ice” Ryan has come into the league, he has shown himself to be a very good QB. He threw a TD in his very first NFL game against the Detroit Lions on his very first pass. He has had his Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs three of the four years that he has been their QB. The guy has excellent mechanics, accuracy, and knows where to go with the football. He and top receiver Roddy White have great chemistry. He has excellent chemistry with tight end Tony Gonzalez.

I feel that Ryan needs to step up his game to not just make the playoffs, but win a playoff game, and go deep into the playoffs. Yes, it is a “team sport,” but the most important team member is the QB, and where he goes, the rest of the team goes. Ryan is awesome in the regular season, but when the playoffs come around, he just does not produce as well.

11. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco is just out of the top ten. As a QB, he does nothing for me. I mean, he has a very strong arm I admit that. However, so did Jeff George. I really don’t see what the fuss is about when the “experts” just go bonkers about him. He can be a very good QB at times, as he showed last year, in the AFC Championship game. However, there are times when he showed quite a bit of ineptness against teams he, and his Ravens should have beaten like a drum, like the Seattle Seahawks, and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Even in the playoffs against the Texans, Flacco looked like a rookie at times. Of course, when most of the offense is done by running back, Ray Rice, and the aging defense is doing a lot of the work, of course that will help Flacco win in the regular season, and in the playoffs. I would like to see more of the Raven’s offense put on Flacco’s shoulders, and less on Rice’s shoulders. That way, fans can see if Flacco is all that.

Enjoying this so far, my readers? I am sure that I have sparked some debate already. On to the start of the Top Ten:

10. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears:

Well, Cutler is definitely tough to judge. He has had an up, and down career. He’s on his second team since being drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 2006 Draft. I think he has a pretty strong arm. However, at first, he had some bad mechanics, and also had health issues where he discovered he had Type I Diabetes. I wondered if he would do much with his raw talent. I do think though that last year, he finally started to put everything together. He was starting to improve his mechanics, and make efforts to avoid sacks. The Chicago Bears were looking like a team to be reckoned with as Cutler was becoming a very good QB. However, it was that fateful game against San Diego where while attempting to stop a Pick Six, Cutler broke his thumb, and was put on IR, and the team pretty much went down the tubes. Back up Caleb Hanie was not very good. Cutler proved to be very valuable. I look forward to seeing him improve, as I think he has a lot of talent, even though his attitude is not everyone’s cup of tea.

9. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers:

Rivers is a very talented QB. He is pretty mechanically sound, with the exception of that somewhat sidearm delivery he has. He is a bit too mouthy for my taste as a QB, but he certainly does not lack confidence. He has gotten the Chargers into the playoffs, but the last couple of years, the team has started slow, and missed the playoffs. However, I put that more on Norv Turner, their head coach, than Rivers, but Rivers has to back up all the big talk that comes out of his mouth. When Rivers is on his game, he can play with the best of them. His accuracy, and such are awesome. However, I do question his leadership on the field when something goes wrong, as he tends to whine. I hope to see Rivers cut the complaining, and become more of a leader. He no longer has Vincent Jackson as his top target, so it is up to Rivers to make something of the new team members, and regain his 2006-2007 form.

8. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys:

To paraphrase the nuns in “The Sounds of Music,” the famous musical by Rogers and Hammerstein, “How do you solve a problem like Tony Romo?” I mean, whenever this guy’s name comes up, conversations become huge debates. Well, here is what I say about Mr. Romo. He is an excellent QB in spurts. What I mean is that there are games where it appears he is the second coming of Brett Farve, as many people compare him to, but there are those games where he plays well, but he will make that mistake where you just want to somehow jump through the television, and bang him on the head. I am talking about those boneheaded interceptions.

People debate whether Romo is “elite.” Well, I just don’t think so. The man has played in recent years on very talented teams that could have gone to the Super Bowl. I mean, any of the elite QBs, like the Manning brothers, Brady, Brees, etc could have won a Super Bowl with the team (s) Romo had. Romo has great numbers, but he has to do it in the playoffs. He has only won one playoff game. Yes, Romo has the 2nd highest passer rating in NFL history, but passer rating is an overrated stat. It doesn’t do much good, if he is not winning big games, especially in the playoffs. I would like to see Romo cut down on the crippling mistakes, and throw to someone else other than Jason Witten.

7. Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions:

Stafford had a few injury plagued years in his young NFL career. There was a lot of concerned that he would never get through a season due to his apparent fragility. However, he had a lot of promise with his strong arm, and accuracy. This year, he put it together. He had a fantastic season, passing for just over 5000 yards. His mechanics improved, and of course, he has Calvin “Megatron” Johnson as his top wide receiver. Despite what ESPN’s Chris Carter says, “Megatron” is one of the top five wideouts in the NFL, and has awesome chemistry with Stafford. Stafford’s long ball is amazing, and his short to mid range passes are also very good. Stafford has to stay healthy, and he has to keep improving to establish himself as one of the top QBs in the league.

6. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos:

Now, normally, I would not have ranked Peyton Manning on this list at all. One of the critieria I was using to judge these quarterbacks was their play last year. One of the reasons that I was annoyed by the NFL Players List 2012 was that they put Manning on the list. He did NOT play last year. However, I did have the player’s entire career as part of my criteria, so since Peyton is one of the best quarterbacks to ever strap on a helmet, at least in the REGULAR season, I think he deserves to be on this list. His 9-10 playoff record, including the 1-1 SB record keeps me from calling him the best ever, as so many of the “experts” say. I WILL say, the man is an awesome player.

This year will be very interesting to say the least. Most NFL fans know that Manning is coming off a fourth neck surgery. He had a one level fusion surgery in the Summer of 2011, and missed the entire 2011 Season, which wound up being the last year he would be with the Colts, the team that drafted him in 1998. After a sad, and rather petty public feud with Colts Owner Jim Irsay, Manning was released, and eventually signed with the Denver Broncos. The Broncos kicked Tim Tebow to the curb, and traded him to the Jets. The question is now, “How much does Peyton got left?” I have heard percentages from 65% to 90%. What is going to happen when the bullets fly? Sure, the surgery went well, but it is his fourth, and we are talking about his neck and he is now 36. He still played at a pretty high level in 2010, but showed a bit of decline, but I am not sure if that was his neck bugging him though. He is in this spot because of his awesome career. I really can not go any higher though due to my concerns about how his neck will affect his playing.

5. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers:

Ben Roethlisberger is an exciting QB. He is also an elite QB, and in my opinion, is deserving to be in my top 5. He is particularly awesome at shedding potential tacklers. Defensive players have said Ben is incredibly strong, which makes him hard to bring down when he goes out of the pocket. Ben makes excellent plays in the pocket as well. Yes, there are the dopey stat freaks that complain he “can’t read a defense.” Hmmm. How does ANY QB get to the NFL without the ability to read a defense? I mean, seriously? I could see if we are talking about a rookie, or someone with no talent at all like Tim Tebow who takes off immediately when the play breaks down, but Ben has made more plays in the pocket than on the outside. It is the so called “experts” like Steve Young who complain that Ben doesn’t play “pretty,” who give fans who play Madden all day the impression that Ben is not elite, when Ben sure as heck is. The one big improvement I would like to see from Ben is to not always go for the big play all the time. That is about the only thing. Ben likes to go for the home run everytime, and that is why, in my opinion, he holds the ball “too long,” not because he “can’t read a defense.”

As for the future, he is adjusting to a new offensive coordinator in the hot tempered Todd Haley. I know there was some tension, but once they get to know each other, and Ben learns the system, I do think they will have success. I see Ben as an elite QB for several years, provide that team fixes the offensive line, and Ben can stay healthy.

4. Eli Manning, New York Giants:

Eli Manning is awesome. I really enjoy his work. He has developed into a top 5 QB in my book. He has great touch on the ball. He is willing to take a beating, and keep on working through it, as seen in the NFC Championship game against the San Fransisco 49ers. He continues to improve on his flaws, particularly his interceptions. He is one of the best QBs at 4th Quarter comebacks in the NFL. He is awesome as far as the long ball, and has great command in the huddle. He has a lot of confidence in himself, and in his teammates. He shows great leadership as well. All this has culminated in 2 Super Bowl wins, and 2 SB MVPs.

Over his career, he has befuddled both fans, and the “experts.” There were times where Manning showed glimpses of greatness, and there were times where people wondered if he would be cut. There were constant comparisons to his older brother, Peyton, and people banging on his rather quiet, on the field personality, especially ESPN’s Mark Schlereth who compared him to Eeyore, the donkey from “Winnie the Pooh.” I honestly didn’t understand why Eli necessarily had to be demonstrative. I mean, just because he appeared to be quiet as a church mouse, didn’t mean he is not a good leader. Just because he doesn’t turn into Sammy Davis, Jr like his brother before every snap, and just because he doesn’t jump into his offensive lineman’s arms every time he throws a first down like Brett Farve did, doesn’t mean he has no passion. Eli is just a different kind of leader is all. However, Eli and the Giants kept working with each other despite the criticisms, and Eli developed into the elite QB he is now.

As far as his 2011 statistics went, Manning threw for 4933 yards, and 29 TDs this year.Yeah, it was a little low as far as the TD total, but Eli led the Giants through the latter part of their schedule, and won the games they had to win to get into the playoffs, and wound up with a second Lombardi in four years. I would like to see him lead a Giants team with a better record, against a different AFC team, and see what happens though. I definitely see a lot more from Manning as an elite quarterback.

3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints:

The newest member of the “100,000,000 Dollar Club,” Drew Brees had a fantastic year by breaking Dan Marino’s record of most passing yards in a season, by throwing 5476 yards. Brees also threw 46 touchdowns also. Drew Brees has great accuracy, and terrific pocket awareness. He moves well enough to avoid the pass rush. Of course, he has great weapons like Marques Colston, and Robert Meacham on his team.

As every NFL fan knows, the Saints have been embroiled in the “Bounty Gate” scandal this offseason, so Brees’ signing this deal is very good news for a team that needs it. Brees is 32, and I definitely think he has a good 4-5 years left as an elite QB in the NFL.

2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers:

Aaron Rodgers had a heck of a year in 2011, and won the MVP of the NFL, coming off his Super Bowl win in Super Bowl 45 where he was voted SB MVP. I am not a Packer fan, but Aaron Rodgers just excells at the position. He throws one of the tightest spirals in the NFL, and has excellent mechanics. His mobility is awesome, and his ability to throw on the run is just about the best in the league. He has great chemistry with his top flight receivers such as Greg Jennings. He led the team to a nearly perfect regular season of 15-1. He will be giving virtuoso performances for years to come, provided he stays healthy, as he is a very exciting player to watch.

1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots:

My pick of Mr. Thomas Edward Brady as the number one QB in the NFL was a no brainer. Yes, Drew Brees broke the great Dan Marino’s seasonal passing record. Yes, Aaron Rodgers was the MVP of 2011. Yes, Eli Manning beat Brady for a second time in the Super Bowl this past February. However, despite some of the commentary about Brady’s legacy made by some sports writers, ESPN commentators, and jealous fans that was basically amateur hour that came after Super Bowl 46, Brady still reigns as the best.

At 34 years ago, in 2011, Tom Brady showed that he still has incredible accuracy, and still has awesome mechanics. Brady’s intangibles, such as heart, and the will to win are amazing. He is the best at manipulating the pocket. It is amazing to see how he still can play at an elite level. The only weakness, if you want to call it that, Tom has is that he is not mobile. To me, that’s a minor flaw. I mean, he can run if needed, but I usually like the QBs who step back and throw. He threw for 5235 yards, and 39 touchdowns in 2011. He is really the one that keeps that team going. Yeah, they lost the last two SBs they were in (#42 and #46). However, I think that fact enhances his legacy. Those teams don’t get there without him, especially this last one where everyone is trying to tear him down.

Aaron Rodgers had a defense that was statistically worst, but the dopey media concentrated on the on Tom had. The Packers’ defense was not that much worst, mind you, but it was worst. I didn’t see the mighty Rodgers, and his Packers in the Super Bowl. The fact that Brady led that team with that horrid defense to the big dance, win OR lose, means to me that he is still in the conversation of “Best QB Ever.” In fact, when Tom led the team to the Super Bowls that the team won, he has much less talent. As for his future in the NFL, Tom said he wants to play till 40. Well, barring injury, I think Tom has about a good 3 years or so as an elite player.

Well, that is my ranking of the best QBs in the NFL. I hope you enjoyed it. I am sure people are ready to debate. I welcome feedback.

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead

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Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft

WWE Fantasy Booking: Sports Candidates For RAW G.M.

July 04, 2012 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

rex ryanOn July 23, 2012, WWE will be presenting the 1000th episode of its flagship show, “Monday Night Raw.” The episode will be three hours long, and will feature not only clips from past episodes of the show, but also returns of past Raw stars. Already advertised for the show is the return of D Generation X, featuring Triple H, and WWE Hall of Famer, Shawn Michaels. This particular show will also start Raw being three hours, instead of two each week. I am very skeptical of the move. It worked wonders for WCW when they did the same thing, but that’s Vince and USA for you.

Another event that is going to happen is the naming a permanent Raw/Smackdown GM, as most everyone who has been following WWE knows, John Laurinitis has finally been fired by Vince McMahon at No Way Out. In the interim, WWE has brought back former GMs so the Board of Directors can see which one, if any would be a suitable Raw/GM. Of course, the Board could pick their own.

I have been doing some thinking and I figured that some fantasy booking is in order. I thought perhaps one of these people that I am going to discuss will fit the bill. After all, they have a few things in common. They have been known to “draw heat,” when their names are mentioned. They all have a personality where you either love them, or hate them. After all, to be part of WWE, a character has to be able to get some sort of reaction, and get themselves over so the fans buy them as that character. These people are successful at what they do, and have the egos to match. After all, as Raw/SD GM, one has to be able to handle ego-maniacal characters, such as Daniel Bryan.

I know it is not possible for these people to take the job, as this is fantasy booking, but when I see them on TV, in the back of my mind, it is the way they act that makes me feel that Vince McMahon should sign them up for some sort of non wrestling role such as GM.

These are not in any particular order, so here are people I would suggest as Raw/SD GM.

1. Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan

Why he’s a candidate:I knew he had a big mouth when he was Defensive Coordinator with the Ravens. I am not surprised considering his dad being Buddy Ryan. However, when he became the Head Coach of the New York Jets, and had his press conference, I was floored. His guaranteeing Super Bowls, and his obsession with beating the New England Patriots were mind blowing. I could not believe he was that bombastic. Now, he claims he will calm it down. We will see. On the other hand, he does seem to be likable, and does have a good rapport with his players.

His brashness, and boastfulness would get him so much heat, as the target has been on his team’s back. His friendly nature allows for a babyface turn, which would go well with the fans. He would definitely be a heel in the New England, Buffalo, and Miami areas. He is very intelligent. His past indiscretions, such as getting into with fans after the Patriots loss last season would make him a strong heel overall.

2. NBA Commissioner David Stern

Why he’s a candidate: If anyone was a “heat magnet,” it would have to be NBA Commissioner David Stern. I just watched the NBA Draft the other night, and every time that man came out, he got booed out of the building. You could barely hear who was being drafted. NBA fans really can not stand Commissioner Stern. Many fans are angry that the officiating of NBA games, especially playoff games, are so bad, that the game is fixed. Fans blame it on Stern. I agree that the officiating needs some improvement, but I don’t think the games are fixed. People are upset also about some things Stern has done in the past, like implement a dress code so the players do not look like thugs, etc.

Stern would be a great Raw/SD GM, because he is a “heat magnet,” as I said. The man is also very smug, and very condescending. He is a man, you want to hate. Every interview he does, he tries his hardest to make the interviewer feel stupid. Stern really gets on my nerves. I could imagine how he would be with the WWE Superstars as GM. Every time he would come out to the ring, a chorus of boos would come down.

3. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

Why he’s a candidate: Much like Stern, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also is a huge heat magnet. At the NFL Draft, every time Commissioner Goodell comes out, he gets greeted by boos. He has to be one of the least popular commissioners in all of sports, in my opinion. I don’t know how Goodell could beat Stern in that department, but he does. I have never seen a Commissioner who is pretty much singlehandedly trying to change the game of professional football till it’s unrecognizable. Hey, I fully understand dumping the ultra hard hits, and leading with the helmet, and all that. However, trying to alter kickoffs?

What gets me is that Goodell is left with all this power as far as punishment goes. He is judge, jury, and executioner. Yes, the players agreed to it, but it is one thing fans hate, He would be a great Raw/SD GM because he would have the storyline arrogance of making decisions, and punishing WWE Superstars willy nilly. He also would be booed off the stage, and get incredible heel heat.

4. Tim Tebow

Why he’s a candidate: If anyone is polarizing, I can’t think of anyone more polarizing than

Tim Tebow. I mean, you have those who love this kid to death, and talk about “all he does is win.” Fans here all the talk about him from ESPN, and NFL Network. Fans get bombarded with how Tim is a “good, Christian man, ” and how they “have to like Tim Tebow.” I mean, Skip Bayless from ESPN would beg to be his assistant on WWE Raw and Smackdown.

There are those, like me who are not fans of Tebow. I like the young man as a PERSON, but I do NOT like him as an NFL player. I am also an Episcopalian, so if anyone is going to start the “You’re not a Christian” argument, you are barking up the wrong tree. There are people who feel he is not a good QB, and don’t worship God the way he does, etc.

As Raw/SD GM, he would get such great babyface heat, I think he may wind up challenging John Cena for the company’s top babyface. One caveat would be is like, Cena, it would be difficult, if impossible to turn him into a heel GM. Fans would love him too much.

Well, I came up with four pretty good candidates for the Raw/SD GM position. I think each man has their distinct qualifications for why each one should get the job. Like I said, this was just a fun, fantasy booking type of blog.

As for who I think WWE will actual pick, as Vince changes his mind like I change socks, I couldn’t guess. It would be too predictable to say Foley, or Vickie, but I would not be surprised if they do something that predictable.

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead

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NFL 2012-13 Pre-Training Camp Power Rankings

July 02, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Tom Brady puntAlright, so we’re not even in training camp yet. So what? You’re like me: so happy to see something debatable and NFL-related, you’ll gobble it up like a street urchin on table scraps. Debate and speculation for a forthcoming NFL season are always fun, and consider this a handy primer on certain off-season moves that you may have missed. As always, this is one man’s opinion, and one man’s opinion alone.

1. New England Patriots (2011 record: 13-3)

Las Vegas projected wins: 12

Biggest free agent move: While Brandon Lloyd and Joseph Addai are attractive additions to a highly-efficient offense, the signing of defense end Jonathan Fanene from the Bengals may be even more potent. The Patriots let 33-year old Andre Carter walk, despite having ten sacks and a Pro Bowl selection. Fanene, through an injury-plagued career, gutted out 6.5 sacks for an improved Bengals squad in 2011, despite playing mostly as a back-up on nickel downs. He is expected to start for New England.

2012 outlook: Other than Carter, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Gary Guyton all exiting, it’s essentially the core group from a year ago that, had Rob Gronkowski had snared that Hail Mary pass, would be defending champions. With this nucleus in place, and barring a surprise team uprising in the AFC East, there’s no reason the Patriots won’t be back in the thick of things in 2012.

2. Green Bay Packers (2011 record: 15-1)

Las Vegas projected wins: 12

Biggest free agent move: Despite having only one loss, Green Bay’s total defense was a wash. Dom Capers’ militia was nineteenth in total D, and worst in the league in pass defense. Near the bottom of the league in sacks, with 29 for the team, the Packers placed much of their off-season emphasis on adding linemen, and the most noteworthy is end Anthony Hargrove. Hargrove was part of a much-improved Seahawks defense in 2011, but may only get eight games to show his stuff in 2012, thanks to his role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.

2012 outlook: As Aaron Rodgers goes, the franchise goes. His record setting season in 2011, complete with a 122.5 passer rating, met a bittersweet end in the postseason at the hands of the New York Giants. But if the defense is shored up, Rodgers won’t need to assume the role of Superman in getting Green Bay back to the promised land. Balance on both sides of the ball will be the key.

3. New York Giants (2011 record: 9-7)

Las Vegas projected wins: 9.5

Biggest free agent move: After Jake Ballard went down with a torn ACL in the Super Bowl (which led to an unlikely squabble between the Giants and Patriots over him), the Giants made sure to re-sign Bear Pascoe in the offseason. Needing more than that, New York also added Martellus Bennett from Dallas; a big bodied tight end (6’7”, 248 lbs) that has had to play second fiddle to Jason Witten more often than not.

2012 outlook: It was an unlikely jaunt for that fourth Super Bowl title, and New York may not have made the postseason had they stumbled against the Jets on Christmas Eve. Even the oddsmakers aren’t giving them more than a puncher’s chance. But the Giants are a team that wins in tough situations, and Eli Manning, when he gets on a roll, is capable of making a run toward his third ring.

4. San Francisco 49ers (2011 record: 13-3)

Las Vegas projected wins: 10

Biggest free agent move: Missing out on the Peyton Manning Sweepstakes, and falling just short of a Super Bowl chance, Jim Harbaugh broke the DiBartolo bank this offseason in adding proven offensive stars. While the Randy Moss signing gets the attention, the focus should be on Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham. Moss will draw tight coverage, allowing Manningham to help out Alex Smith with great catches in the third banana role.

2012 outlook: Shawntae Spencer is the only notable defensive player that left the 49ers this offseason, and he did nothing last year as a benchwarmer. Beyond that, it’s the same run-stopping, claustrophobia-inducing defense that came oh-so-close to a trip to Indianapolis. Even as the offense finds its identity, marking the 49ers down as NFC West champions today isn’t unrealistic.

5. Baltimore Ravens (2011 record: 12-4)

Las Vegas projected wins: 10

Biggest free agent move: Baltimore focused more on re-signing its current players rather than shop for big-ticket talents from other teams, but one loss forced them to scour the NFL “personal ads” this spring. After losing Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs to New Orleans, the Ravens signed 35-year-old Bobbie Williams from the rival Bengals. In eight years in Cincinnati, Williams has played six entire seasons at starter for Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton.

2012 outlook: A botched field goal attempt by Billy Cundiff kept Baltimore from forcing overtime in the AFC Championship Game. Since then, the Ravens have had setbacks with the Grubbs loss, as well as Terrell Suggs’ off-field injury, which is jeopardizing his season. If rookie Courtney Upshaw does a decent Suggs impression, then Baltimore should remain in the championship hunt.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (2011 record: 12-4)

Las Vegas projected wins: 10

Biggest free agent move: The Steelers’ biggest addition this offseason may have been to the sidelines, as opposed to on the field. After winding up twenty-second in the NFL in total offense, the Steelers chose not to re-sign five-year offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, and instead acquired the services of former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley, who is known for his combativeness and risk-taking. 2011’s eleventh worst team in scoring could use the jump-start.

2012 outlook: The Steelers are a curious study: their defense never seems to slow down, even as many of their veterans push or exceed the NFL life expectancy. Tim Tebow’s unusual playing style, and ability to connect on long passes, was probably an aberration in that Wild Card game. Until Pittsburgh puts forth more weak performances like that this year, no need to hit the panic button.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 10

Biggest free agent move: This was actually a trade, and it ranks as a steal for Philadelphia. In March, the birds picked up linebacker DeMeco Ryans, after not having a quality LB since Jeremiah Trotter’s second run through the city. Since Brian Dawkins left town, the defense has lacked a vocal, do-as-I-do leader, and Ryans’ aggressive attack and confident swagger can rub off on linebackers and safeties that functioned without a rudder a year ago.

2012 outlook: Sloppy losses early in the year doomed the “Dream Team”, and many of the new puzzle pieces (Vince Young, Ronnie Brown, Steve Smith) were all jettisoned accordingly. For the Eagles to get back to form, Michael Vick has to be on point after being erratic last season. Better play from the linebackers and safeties (including recent signing OJ Atogwe) may steer the Eagles right.

8. Houston Texans (2011 record: 10-6)

Las Vegas projected wins: 10

Biggest free agent move: Losing Mario Williams to Buffalo, and voluntarily trading DeMeco Ryans to Philadelphia, indicates confidence in what Wade Phillips has otherwise in his revamped 3-4 scheme. Even then, Phillips I’m sure was the driving force in bringing in one of his heavies from Dallas, linebacker Bradie James. Coming off a lousy 2011, in which he posted but 29 tackles and a fumble recovery, James reunites with the coach with whom he had his most successful years in Big D.

2012 outlook: Houston has itself a ‘grace period’ after their maiden playoff run, and that’ll be fortified with another division title, since the AFC South is still relatively weak. The long-term health of Andre Johnson, with his many foot and ankle injuries, will be a concern, but there are many positives otherwise. A healthy Matt Schaub and a crushing defense will tell the story in 2012.

9. Detroit Lions (2011 record: 10-6)

Las Vegas projected wins: 9.5

Biggest free agent move: Curiously, defensive-minded Jim Schwartz waited until the later rounds of the draft to add linebacking and secondary help for his disappointing D. In free agency, however, Schwartz picked up the young and capable Jacob Lacey from Indianapolis. The Colts didn’t have much to celebrate last year, but Lacey managed to shine with a pick six and his expected handful of pass deflections in his eleven starts. Lacey will try to replace Eric Wright, who signed with Tampa Bay.

2012 outlook: Plain and simple, that playoff berth would not have happened if Matthew Stafford had gone down with injury for the third straight season. The Lions had zero running game (due to injuries), and a defense that regressed heavily from 2010. Given the benefit of the doubt, and with Jahvid Best healthy, the Lions have as good a chance as any of polishing those shortcomings to a shine.

10. New Orleans Saints (2011 record: 13-3)

Las Vegas projected wins: 10

Biggest free agent move: Losing Carl Nicks to division rival Tampa Bay certainly stings a team left reeling from a tumultuous offseason. Of course, if you read the Ravens entry already, you know that New Orleans’ counterpunch was to bring on Ben Grubbs to fill his spot at guard. There aren’t many guards in the NFL that you could call “interchangeable” with Nicks, but Grubbs, a Pro Bowler in 2011 just as Nicks was, was a Godsend in the free agency pool.

2012 outlook: The bounty scandal casts a dark shadow over the organization, with Jonathan Vilma likely done for the season, and defensive end Will Smith guaranteed to miss time. Drew Brees’ contract situation is just as sticky, but the franchise’s leader has indicated that he’ll play in 2012, grievances or not. With distractions all around, the Saints may be ripe for the picking.

11. Denver Broncos (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 9.5

Biggest free agent move: Here I was going to wax poetic on Tracy Porter or Andre Caldwell, but somebody just told me that Denver went out and got future first-ballot Hall of Famer Peyton Manning to be their franchise quarterback. If this is true, then that would certainly explain the trade of miracle man Tim Tebow to New York, wouldn’t it? Denver’s putting a lot of faith in Manning’s surgically-repaired neck, as well as his age (36), in their attempt at reclaiming championship glory.

2012 outlook: This one’s a coin flip. If Peyton is the Peyton that wrecked defenses with his dial-an-audible play calling, and he’s able to gel with a new cast (which includes familiar target, Jacob Tamme, at tight end), then Denver should take the West. Any setbacks due to his injuries, or from Denver having a tough schedule (as last year’s division champ) and the hype could be for naught.

12. Cincinnati Bengals (2011 record: 9-7)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7.5

Biggest free agent move: Andy Dalton and AJ Green’s dual rookie season provided a surprise spark to a Bengals team that bid farewell to vets Carson Palmer, Terrell Owens, and Chad Ocho Cinco. With Cincinnati’s running game a colossal failure in 2011, the team is also breaking up with Cedric Benson, who hasn’t regained his 2009 form. The solution looks to be BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who was camouflaged in New England, but brings less baggage to Cincinnati.

2012 outlook: The knock on Cincinnati in 2011, despite sneaking into the postseason, was that they had an easy schedule, and didn’t beat anyone good. Pittsburgh and Baltimore each swept them, and Houston chopped them up in round one. The schedule is more imposing for the forthcoming season, so the Bengals had better hold their own against the Steelers and Ravens for starters.

13. Tennessee Titans (2011 record: 9-7)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7

Biggest free agent move: Tennessee just missed the postseason in 2011, and their calling card was a defense that did a solid job keeping opponents out of the end zone. To make their reserve even stronger, the Titans have enlisted Kamerion Wimbley from Oakland. A hybrid defensive end/linebacker, the 28-year-old has racked up sixteen sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble over the last two seasons, playing for non-contenders.

2012 outlook: Jacksonville and Indianapolis are still cobbling together their identities, leaving Tennessee as the only real threat to shove Houston off their perch. Chris Johnson’s disappointing season has been highlighted as part of their downfall a year ago, same with Kenny Britt’s injury. But it’s a new year, and Tennessee might stun those that think Houston has a cakewalk into the postseason.

14. Chicago Bears (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 8.5

Biggest free agent move: Brandon Marshall was a trade, and I’d still be inclined to put him here, but let’s shine a light on a player you never hear about. With Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, you wouldn’t think signing a linebacker would be important. But as the Bears total defense slipped in 2011, Chicago went out and signed Tampa Bay’s Geno Hayes, who is seven years younger than Briggs. Hayes is a reliable tackler who can play the run, as well as rush the quarterback efficiently.

2012 outlook: Jay Cutler’s broken thumb doomed the club last season, and Mike Martz’s playcalling didn’t jive with what the rest of the team wanted. Now Martz is retired, Cutler’s healthy, and he’s reunited with Denver teammate Brandon Marshall. But Matt Forte’s holding out for a new deal, and a team that is seemingly never all on the same page still has issues to iron out.

15. Carolina Panthers (2011 record: 6-10)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7.5

Biggest free agent move: If you’re facing Carolina, the last thing you want Cam Newton to have is effective weapons at his disposal. He’s already got a potent running attack, Steve Smith, and his own freakish abilities. Now he’s got fullback Mike Tolbert from San Diego, who is a nightmare out in the flat for short passes and dump offs. Plus with his pass-blocking capabilities, he gives Newton more time to make reads, and can spring him on design sneaks. Yikes.

2012 outlook: Is this the new “Greatest Show on Turf”? Carolina’s ten losses a year ago featured five by a touchdown or less, and you can tie that to Newton’s growing pains, in spite of his flashes of brilliance. But it’s the defense that needs the kickstart, and Carolina’s hoping some of their younger players on that side of the ball (especially rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly) light that fuse.

16. Atlanta Falcons (2011 record: 10-6)

Las Vegas projected wins: 9

Biggest free agent move: After their pass defense proved below-average a year ago, they let their run defense erode. Curtis Lofton flew the coop to New Orleans, after being the team’s leading tackler, and the best they could replace him with is Lofa Tatupu, an aging ex-Pro Bowler who didn’t even play in 2011. Tatupu and youngster Akeem Dent will compete for the job. If you’re talking good moves, the three year deal that kept John Abraham as starting defensive end is as good as it gets.

2012 outlook: Atlanta was unable to draft high after trading picks in 2011, and their run in free agency wasn’t exactly stellar. The 2-point playoff loss to the Giants could be the harbinger of a tough run, especially as Carolina and Tampa Bay went to greater lengths to improve themselves this offseason. Something tells me the Falcons could be in for a down year.

17. New York Jets (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 8.5

Biggest free agent move: Rex Ryan knows his defense, and he’s ready and willing to compensate for weakness at a moment’s notice. Strong safety Brodney Pool jumped to Dallas, and perennial starter Jim Leonhard remains a free agent. Remedy: first sign LaRon Landry, who is still not 100% from an Achillies injury, then sign reliable veteran Yeremiah Bell from the Dolphins. Like a true Ryan with any kind of vested authority, Rex won’t let his defense slip even half a step.

2012 outlook: The image of the Jets locker room during 2011’s waning stages was that of lawless chaos, and zero accountability. LaDainian Tomlinson will one day pen an autobiography, and I’m sure that chapter will be quite juicy. Now with Tim Tebow standing just beyond Mark Sanchez’ shadow, maintaining focus and poise in 2012 is a daunting task for the Jets.

18. Kansas City Chiefs (2011 record: 7-9)

Las Vegas projected wins: 8

Biggest free agent move: One team’s salary cap casualty is another team’s treasure. On the eve of free agency, Houston axed offensive tackle Eric Winston, rather than working with him to restructure his deal. Winston, who’s started every game for the Texans in five straight seasons, landed with the Chiefs days later. The Chiefs gave up 34 total sacks last season, and Winston will certainly help Matt Cassel, who injured his hand last year, stay upright.

2012 outlook: Lemony Snicket didn’t have as many unfortunate events as Kansas City did in 2011. The season-ending injuries to Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, and Tony Moeaki, plus the ousting of coach Todd Haley, put an ax through the Chiefs’ Western title defense. Romeo Crennel, as head coach, has the defensive personnel to turn it around, and Kansas City may be this season’s comeback team.

19. Dallas Cowboys (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 8.5

Biggest free agent move: The once-great Terrence Newman had become a liability at cornerback; so much so that Dallas didn’t hesitate to release him before free agency started. His heir could come in the form of speedy Brandon Carr, who signed with the Cowboys for $50 million over five years. Dallas plummeted in pass defense, allowing a shade under 4000 yards over the course of the season (about 244 per game). Out with the old, in with the new.

2012 outlook: Dallas may be hobbled by some interesting losses, including starting offensive linemen Kyle Kosier and Montrae Holland. Laurent Robinson was the surprise star of the receiving corps, but he wound up signing in Jacksonville. Dallas is a team that tends to “yo-yo” from year to year, and if Tony Romo doesn’t match his great 2011 numbers, things may go south in 2012.

20. Oakland Raiders (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7

Biggest free agent move: Oakland’s defense sank like the Lusitania a year ago, and the response was to pore through the free agent landscape in search of the equivalent of leak putty. The most intriguing signing is Rams cornerback Ron Bartell, who sustained a neck injury in week one against Philadelphia, and missed the rest of the year. Prior to that, Bartell was a consistent tackler and swift in coverage, particularly in pass deflection. He’s not Nnamdi Asomugha, but he’s something.

2012 outlook: It’s the first full season without the curmudgeon and short-sightedness of Al Davis, but it feels like his ghost lingers. Despite a .500 season, Oakland still dropped head coach Hue Jackson in favor of defensive whiz kid Dennis Allen. Allen may promote a turnover-heavy defense, but Oakland needs continuity and identity before all else, and it just feels like square one again.

21. San Diego Chargers (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 9

Biggest free agent move: After losing Vincent Jackson to Tampa Bay, the Chargers have spared no expense in bringing in potential replacements at the wide receiver position. While Eddie Royal, Roscoe Parrish, and Michael Spurlock are solid situational pick-ups, the crown jewel is clearly Robert Meachem, a deep-ball threat who stood out at times in Drew Brees’ “everyone gets involved” offense, but will now be tasked as the ace of Philip Rivers’ downfield army.

2012 outlook: Hate to say it, but as long as Norv Turner is still the head coach, he tends to stunt the growth of a team that often shows promise. During the team’s six game losing streak in October and November last year, opponents never scored less than 16 points on them. Playing the AFC North and NFC South, the Chargers may yet struggle again this year.

22. Arizona Cardinals (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7

Biggest free agent move: Keeping Kevin Kolb and/or John Skelton upright has been a tall order, as has been the need to pick up rushing yards. In fact, the Cardinals only went over 100 yards as a team five times in 2011. Playing San Francisco twice a year made Arizona familiar with veteran guard Adam Snyder, who was the 49ers primary starting right guard last season. It’s not a signing meant to dazzle, but offensive line continuity makes all the difference.

2012 outlook: There’s cause for excitement among Cardinals fans on the offensive side of the ball. Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts are already a force of nature at wide receiver, but rookie Michael Floyd adds an exciting checkdown option. Coupled with running back Ryan Williams being healthy after missing all of last season, and Arizona could be onto something.

23. Seattle Seahawks (2011 record: 7-9)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7

Biggest free agent move: Seattle was unable to retain the services of their reliable linebacker David Hawthorne, who went to the Saints to try and fit into Jonathan Vilma’s vacated cleats. Since the signing was in April, this left Seattle few options to replace him with. In an attempt to fill that void, the Seahawks added the once highly-regarded Barrett Ruud. Ruud was a sure tackler in Tampa Bay before injuries limited him to nine games for Tennessee a season ago.

2012 outlook: Seattle may as well air a local game show entitled “Quarterback Idol” with Pete Carroll in his gaudiest Steven Tyler duds. Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Flynn, and rookie Russell Wilson all seem to have an opportunity to earn the starter’s role. Generally speaking, open competition for the starting job doesn’t indicate a contender, but Carroll’s surprised us before.

24. Miami Dolphins (2011 record: 6-10)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7.5

Biggest free agent move: This is the part where I’m supposed to pay lip service to Chad Ocho Cinco and his borderline disturbing acts of attention whoring, but I’ll focus more on David Garrard. After sitting out 2011 to repair a herniated disc, the 34-year-old former Jaguar brings a consistent and solid resume to the Dolphins. Joe Philbin has been working Garrard out with the starting unit, which is surprising considering how well Matt Moore played last season.

2012 outlook: From 2004 onward, the Dolphins have managed only two winning seasons; one of which came in 2008 when the AFC East was in disarray. The need to bring in proven offensive studs comes as Reggie Bush solidifies himself as an every down back, so Philbin’s looking to put it together early. In a hard-to-navigate AFC East, I’m just not sure it’s possible.

25. Buffalo Bills (2011 record: 6-10)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7

Biggest free agent move: Having the third worst total defense in the league, attributed mostly to an awful run defense, necessitated a swift remedy. To that end, Buffalo threw $100 million over six years to Houston’s Mario Williams, with $50 million guaranteed (the most lucrative contract ever for a defensive player). Williams played only five games in 2011 due to a torn pectoral, yet still managed to earn five sacks. Buffalo’s gambling on him to stay healthy and be the difference maker.

2012 outlook: Here’s 2011 in a nutshell for Buffalo: go 4-2, give Ryan Fitzpatrick a six year, $59 million deal, and then go 2-8 the rest of the way. Granted, the defense was a huge part of those losses, giving up no less than 23 points in all eight defeats. But by adding Williams and rookie corner Stephon Gilmore, the Bills are at least making solid moves to fix glaring holes.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2011 record: 4-12)

Las Vegas projected wins: 6

Biggest free agent move: In most other years, the addition of tight end Dallas Clark would be heralded as a game-changer for any franchise. But Tampa Bay did better for themselves, not only landing Carl Nicks to improve the offensive line, but Vincent Jackson as lead receiver. Indeed, the team with the sixth worst offense in 2011 underwent an extreme makeover, stockpiling blockers and playmakers to make up for Josh Freeman’s regressive season, and to give him more advantages.

2012 outlook: If ever a team in the bottom quarter of this list had room for, as Heath Ledger would say, ‘aggressive expansion’, it’s Tampa Bay. Good choices in the draft on the defensive side (Mark Barron, Lavonte David) will help fix the league’s worst run defense of a year ago. If the new-look offense clicks, the Buccaneers have a chance to stun some doubters.

27. Washington Redskins (2011 record: 5-11)

Las Vegas projected wins: 6.5

Biggest free agent move: You won’t believe this, but Washington opened up their checkbook this offseason and signed many a player. Wide receivers Jabar Gaffney and Santana Moss are getting older (Moss was limited to 584 yards in 2011), so a youth infusion became necessary. Enter Pierre Garcon from Indianapolis, who managed 947 yards and six touchdowns for an anemic, Peyton-less Colts team last year. With $20.5 million guaranteed, Garcon is surely the ace at wideout.

2012 outlook: Is Robert Griffin III this year’s Cam Newton? The hype machine and Redskin fan expectations are spinning on the gusts of that notion, surely. From year to year, particularly in the Daniel Snyder era, the Redskins have had trouble maintaining continuity, and building on small successes. If the Skins are going to make it, Griffin had better be that savior.

28. Minnesota Vikings (2011 record: 3-13)

Las Vegas projected wins: 6

Biggest free agent move: Minnesota wasn’t particularly aggressive this offseason in trying to rebuild their rock bottom defense, save for signing veteran corner Chris Carr. On offense, with the need to give Christian Ponder more reliable targets (especially with Percy Harvin’s disgruntled mindset), the Vikings added athletic Jerome Simpson from Cincinnati. Before Simpson can bring his gymnastics to the Vikings, he has to serve a three game suspension for drug-related offenses.

2012 outlook: It’s a long way to the top in the NFC North. Green Bay remains a challenge to unseat, while Detroit and Chicago are at least in position to try and do something about it. Minnesota needs more than Jared Allen and Adrian Peterson to get back to form, and this is a case where Rome isn’t going to be built in a day, let alone a season.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2011 record: 5-11)

Las Vegas projected wins: 5.5

Biggest free agent move: Marcedes Lewis led the team in receiving yards with 460 last season, and that won’t get it done. Complimented by the drafting of Justin Blackmon, wide receiver Laurent Robinson comes off a career year in Dallas, where he had 858 yards and 11 touchdowns, outclassing Miles Austin, and topping Dez Bryant in touchdowns. Dangerous off the bench, Robinson will now lead a corps of Blackmon, Mike Thomas, and veteran Lee Evans for the Jags.

2012 outlook: Maurice Jones-Drew had years taken off his career carrying Jacksonville on his back, all while running to daylight for the rushing title. The additions at wide receiver, and competition between Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne for the quarterback spot, are steps in the right direction. The defense did their part in 2011; now the offense has to put it together.

30. Cleveland Browns (2011 record: 4-12)

Las Vegas projected wins: 5.5

Biggest free agent move: Much of Cleveland’s offseason focus centered on the draft, where the Browns picked up the seeds and sod that will, presumably, grow their offense into a bountiful harvest. On the free agency front, Cleveland acquired veteran defensive end Juqua Parker, who despite seeing less playing time in Philadelphia in 2011, still scored two defensive touchdowns last season. The Browns’ defense held up well last year, but had only 32 sacks, which Parker can aid with.

2012 outlook: Drafting a running back and quarterback in the first round of any draft is akin to hanging an “UNDER CONSTRUCTION” sign on your operation. Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden are likely to start opening day, so it’s forgivable if there are bumps in the road for Cleveland. Mike Holmgren’s not rushing into anything, so Browns fans, as usual, just be patient.

31. St. Louis Rams (2011 record: 2-14)

Las Vegas projected wins: 6

Biggest free agent move: Jeff Fisher wasted no time in giving his new team the brashness and shameless grit that his old Titans had. By transplanting the obnoxious Cortland Finnegan into his secondary, on $27 million guaranteed, Fisher hopes to seal off the 25.4 points per game that the Rams gave up a year ago. In addition, the Rams only had 12 interceptions as a team, 9 among the secondary, and Finnegan’s aggressive coverage can open opportunities for his teammates to feed on.

2012 outlook: Fisher’s defenses have been traditionally hard to navigate, and he used the draft to add Michael Brockers and Janoris Jenkins within the first two rounds. The real challenge is going to be getting Sam Bradford right again. Coming off a limited season where he personally went 1-9, Bradford gains rookie Brian Quick, but has lost Brandon Lloyd. And so it continues.

32. Indianapolis Colts (2011 record: 2-14)

Las Vegas projected wins: 5.5

Biggest free agent move: With Andrew Luck as the opening day starter, it’s imperative to protect the investment with as much of a buffer as possible. This is where Samson Satele comes in. A proven starter at center for the Dolphins and Raiders, Satele replaces the aging Jeff Saturday, who departed for Green Bay. Luck may not have a whole lot around him to begin his career, but a center that’s started 74 games since 2007 will provide structure and reliability for him early on.

2012 outlook: The Colts ended up at the butt-end of the league a year ago, and this is where they begin the 2012 campaign. Reggie Wayne is one of the lone star holdovers from the Colts’ glory runs of the last few years, and coach Chuck Pagano has to rebuild the empire with a highly-touted would-be franchise quarterback. Unless Luck is a beast out of the chute, it’s going to be baby steps.

Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for Wrestlechat.net and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.

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Fantasy Football Stock Market: Who Is Up & Who Is Down

March 28, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Arian FosterWow! That is all I can say after the last week plus in the NFL. The moves, shake-ups, suspensions, trades, and non-trades are making for one of the craziest off-seasons in quite some time. If you don’t lock yourself onto ESPN or NFL Network every second of the day you are sure to miss a lot.

As you all know, all these moves will somehow affect Fantasy Football drafts, good or bad, and you will have to start now to be able to get a grip on it. I’m here to try and catch you up on who is where and what impact it will have come time for the new season to begin. I have for you the NFL Fantasy Stock Market where I will break down new faces in their new places and if it means they will rise or fall.

Get your notebooks ready class as we have a lot to cover here!

Peyton Manning, QB, to the Broncos: It is being called the biggest free agent signing in NFL history, as Manning, one of the best QBs of all time has moved on to the Broncos. We still need to see how well he can play after recovering from neck surgery and missing the entire season last year. Manning is always a good bet when healthy. He spreads the ball around and is always cool in the pocket. Now he needs to get some more weapons, perhaps former Colt TE Dallas Clark? Either way as long as he is in the NFL, Manning is a guy you have to go to.

Stock: Rising

Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, WRs, Broncos: Both are young and talented and both did pretty good, despite what many said about Tim Tebow’s passing skill, or lack of. Both have showed the ability to get scores deep and each possesses nice hands. The key will be for them to learn the timing of Manning, and be able to work within his perfectionist style. There is little doubt that if Manning comes in healthy that these guys go from 14th or 15th rounders up to 7th or 8th at the latest. Of course seeing some practice and pre-season action will help greatly.

Stock: Rising

Tim Tebow, QB, Jets: Traded to the Jets, only to have that trade catch a snag, “Tebow-mania” has had quite a fall out from last season. We all know he has the heart and soul of a true competitor, and can run like any back in the league. However Tebow wants to be a QB, and there just does not seem to be any team ready to make him the starter. He may have to find himself as a gadget player and will have to wait for a possible injury to get a full-time gig under Center again. Until we know where he lands, this is really tough to tell.

Stock: Plummeting

Drew Brees, QB, Saints: How can you go wrong with a guy with numbers like Brees? Well I’ll tell you. Last season when head coach Sean Payton broke his leg and was forced to coach from the booth, the offense wasn’t quite the same, and Brees admitted it affected him. So now Brees will have to go all year without his coach after he was served a 1 year suspension by the NFL for his part in the Bounty Case. He also lost Guard Carl Nicks and WR Robert Meacham this off-season, and has a little thing like a Franchise Tag hanging over his head. It seems like Drew is having a bad off-season, so I urge you to beware.

Stock: Falling

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Patriots: You want a potential fantasy jackpot? Suddenly you have to love Brandon Lloyd, a WR with great speed, excellent hands and is ready to be the leader of a very good crop of TE’s and WR’s. Lloyd has spent his pro years on some very poor teams, but has always managed to deliver highlight reel catches and big numbers. He is also reuniting with Josh McDaniels who is now the offensive coordinator for the Pats and was his head coach in Denver when Lloyd posted 77 catches for over 1,100 yards. Oh and did I mention a QB named Tom Brady?

Stock: Rising

BenJarvis Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals: A new look for both Green-Ellis and the Bengals here, but this one has me concerned. Bernard Scott is still here waiting for his chance to be the lead back, and Green-Ellis lacked big numbers last year. Cedric Benson did decent in this system last year, but the Bengals with QB Andy Dalton have become a passing team again. Not a great sign for Green-Ellis who is not known for his hands and skills in the passing game. This is one that we will have to see to judge, but I won’t be too excited yet.

Stock: Slipping

Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: Sometimes all a player needs is a change of scenery. Jackson in the past has shown that he has the skills to be a great WR, but also has shown the ability to quit when unhappy. In Tampa he has a QB in Josh Freeman who has shown us Jekyll and Hyde so far in his career. If we get the guy from 2010, Jackson will be insane, if not he may be sorry for this move, well despite all the money. Tampa has been busy this off-season let’s see if it pays off.

Stock: Soaring

Mike Tolbert, RB, Panthers: Huh? Did he not just leave San Diego for a chance to see more carries? This makes very little sense to me. Not only do they have DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, but from 1 or 2 yards out they also have Cam Newton at QB who likes to run them in too. He may get some action in the passing game, where they lacked as a team in the backfield, but he is not taking over anyone else’s job yet.

Stock: Falling

Robert Griffin the Third, QB, Rookie: After an excellent combine and a good pro day, it is obvious that RG3 will go early in the draft, and has the skills to be the next Cam Newton. Sure it is hard to trust rookie QBs, but if he goes to the Redskins as expected he will be met with new signings Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. Griffin is looking like a safe bet, if not this year, in the near future. Keeper league alert!

Stock: Sky-rocketing

Alex Smith, QB, 49ers: Turned out to be a pretty good move for Smith to go back to San Francisco as he got a nice big contract and has improving weapons and a good head coach. Smith showed last season that he can run the ball, and guys like TE Vernon Davis, and WR Michael Crabtree got better as the season rolled along. Now he gets to add a veteran star WR in Randy Moss. Has Smith’s career been revived? We will soon find out.

Stock: Rising

Matt Flynn, QB, Seahawks: Possibly the Seahawks believe in deja vous? Last time they went out and got a former Green Bay back up it turned out to be Matt Hasselbeck who had a decent career in Seattle. Now it is Matt Flynns turn, a guy who has started 2 games, but has thrown 9 TDs and just 2 INTs in those starts. Yes he has the advantage of learning behind a great QB like Aaron Rodgers, and the Seahawks have a good run game working and lots of young quick receivers, but is Flynn worth the deal he signed? Heck will he even beat out Tavaris Jackson? We will need a lot of video here.

Stock: Tip Toes Up

Texans Defense: A few key losses here have some wondering. Mario Williams is now in Buffalo, and DeMeco Ryans has been dealt to the Eagles. Yes, they have some nice pieces, but have lost 2 big leaders.

Stock: Free Falling

Arian Foster, RB, Texans: I ask you all to watch closely here. Houston has watched half of last years steady offensive line go elsewhere in free agency, and QB Matt Schaub is coming off of an injury. Foster has all the tools, but he could suffer from losing key pieces. Also we have to mention how good Ben Tate looked last year when given a chance. Now that Foster has his money, will he remain huge?

Stock: Even

Laurent Robinson, WR, Jaguars: Why would any WR make a move from a pass-happy offense like Dallas to go to a place like Jacksonville where WRs career go to die? Well money and a chance to be a number 1 for sure. Robinson after traveling around the league and never really finding a home, had a nice season last year after stepping in for an injured Miles Austin. He may have used that to land a nice pay day, but I’m not too sure that he is the guy the Jags think he is. Also QB Blaine Gabbard has a lot to learn about playing QB in the NFL. This is a head-scratcher.

Stock: Slipping

Peyton Hillis, RB, Chiefs: Another surprising spot for a free agent to land. Sure we need to see how Jamaal Charles’ knee will be this season, but Hillis needs to find his game again after struggling with injuries in 2011. He is still a big, bruising back, but K.C. loves to spread the ball around and he may find himself unhappy all over again.

Stock: Slipping

Donald Brown, RB, Colts: Joseph Addai and Peyton Manning are gone and so in comes a rookie QB, so is this Browns chance to be the leader? They did bring in Delonne Carter last year who showed flashes, but Brown picked it up late in the season, and might be quick enough and good enough in the passing game to have a nice season. If the Colts stay still at RB in the draft, you may have to consider Brown in the middle rounds.

Stock: Climbing

Trent Richardson, RB, Rookie: We don’t know for certain where he is going to end up, but if he does end up in Cleveland with the Browns you have to like his chances of seeing loads of playing time. The Browns rid themselves of Peyton Hillis so are looking for a new lead back. If they land Richardson, we can be looking at a rookie of the year candidate.

Stock: Rising

Justin Blackmon, WR, Rookie: Once again his landing spot is not known, but a good chance says he ends up in St. Louis, and if that is the case it will be huge for him. Young QB Sam Bradford needs a good target, and many believe Blackmon will be the best rookie WR since Calvin Johnson. He is big and strong and plenty fast with good hands and work ethic. If he does not go to the Rams and ends up with the Browns you may have to think twice.

Stock: Rising

Robert Meacham, WR, Chargers: Philip Rivers is a QB that loves tall, quick WRs and Meacham comes in here with a chance to steal the number 1 spot. Over the last few years this former first-round pick was lost in the shuffle in New Orleans, but here he gets his chance to get more looks and I think he can capitalize. Some out there have little faith in Meacham and believe he has been around long enough to develop bad habits, but I say he is worth a mid-round pick to see what he has.

Stock: Even

DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles: He got his big contract and his team got that disaster of a season out of the way. The Eagles still have a good core, and Jackson can go back to try and be that deep threat he has become famous for. The hype of “Dream Team” is well behind them, role players are being worked in rather than superstars, and many of the team’s top assets have been locked in long term. As long as QB Michael Vick can stay healthy, Jackson should be back, and worthy of our trust.

Stock: Rising

Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears: This could be the best move of the off-season, as long as Marshall faces no suspension time. When he was with Jay Cutler the last time in Denver, he was a constant 100 catch, 1,000 yard and double-digit TD guy, so it should come easy for these 2 being together again. Marshall truly is gifted, but this is his third team in his career, so the time is now for him to focus and succeed.

Stock: ( barring a suspension ) Booming!

David Garrard, QB, Dolphins: Yikes! I for one have always liked Garrard. I think he plays smart, with fire and has shown he can be a winner. However, Miami has seen many run out of here, traded Brandon Marshall, could not land Peyton Manning, and have very little in the pass game. Garrard missed all of last season, and his reward is a team in trouble. He is not a guy that gets drafted that’s for sure, but even as far as a free agent fantasy guy, we would have to see a tremendous turn around.

Stock: Bottomless Pit

Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: All he needed to do was wait it out and he could have been on his way to Denver. Instead Wayne dropped his name on a contract back in Indy, and now will try to fit in with a new rookie QB. Wayne over the years has been one of the very few WR who could be a possesions guy, 3rd down guy, and deep threat, but now it will be hard to know what he can do. He has the skill for sure, but he is aged, and will have a whole new system to learn. Could it be a long year for Reggie?

Stock: Falling

So here are some players to keep an eye on, and we still have plenty more free agents to sign up and make a difference. Next I will take a look at some of the top draft prospects at the skill positions. Who do you want for your team? Comments here are always appreciated!

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